A conservative view on history as we make it

Monday, March 24, 2008

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000

Army Specialist Daniel J. Agami, 25, of Coconut Creek, Fla

At Grim Milestone, White House Says Focus Is on Success in Iraq

The White House acknowledged another grim milestone in the war in Iraq on Monday — the rise in the overall American death toll to at least 4,000 — but said that President Bush, though “grieved” by the new numbers, would continue to push forward and “focus on succeeding.”
The unofficial death toll compiled by The Associated Press reached the latest threshold late Sunday night in Baghdad, when a homemade bomb exploded along a road in the southern part of the city, killing four American soldiers who were patrolling in a vehicle. The milestone was the second dire water mark for the war in less than a week, coming only a few days after the fifth anniversary of the American-led invasion.
President Bush, who started his morning on a more jubilant note with the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, did not comment directly on the milestone, but said through the White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, that he would not be deterred.
“It’s a sober moment, and one that all of us can focus on in terms of the number of 4,000,” Ms. Perino told reporters on Monday morning. “The president feels each and every one of the deaths very strongly and he grieves for their families. He obviously is grieved by the moment but he mourns the loss of every single life.”
Mr. Bush “bears the responsibility” for the decisions to go to war in Iraq, she added, but he also “bears the responsibility to continue to focus on succeeding.”
The 4,000 figure includes two categories of deaths that some other tallies omit: American contractors, and members of the armed services whose names have not been released by the Pentagon. Its passing was noted by both The Associated Press and Icasualties.org, an independent Web site that tracks casualties in Iraq.
The latest deaths of Americans occurred during a fierce wave of violence throughout Iraq on Sunday, an explosion of violence that claimed the lives of 58 Iraqis and reinforced a prevailing sense that insurgent and sectarian attacks are climbing rapidly in the country.
The Bush administration has been gradually reducing troop levels in Iraq since last year’s “surge” of additional forces, and the president and his top advisers say they are now trying to determine whether to continue withdrawing troops. Administration officials have repeatedly said that the surge produced an immediate reduction in violence, and some are questioning whether pulling troops out will reverse those gains.

Most importantly...........

“The 4,000th killed-in-action in Iraq is newsworthy, but the truth is that every death should be a news item,” Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of the group, said in the statement. “The 4,000th death should not be exploited in the polarized arguments about the war. Honoring the fallen is neither a pro- nor an anti-war statement. It’s about respecting the sacrifice of thousands of America’s sons and daughters.”

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fire Breaks Out at Las Vegas Resort

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A three-alarm fire broke out Friday at the Monte Carlo hotel-casino, sending plumes of black smoke above the Las Vegas Strip.
The fire, which was reported around 11 a.m., was spreading from the center section of the hotel across the roof. Flaming embers fell to the street below.
"The building is being evacuated," said Gordon Absher, spokesman for the hotel owner, MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) Inc.
There were no immediate reports of injuries, according to an ambulance dispatcher.
Huge crowds formed to watch the fire, and traffic on the Las Vegas Strip was gridlocked as streets were blocked off around the hotel.
The Monte Carlo Resort & Casino has more than 3,000 guest rooms and opened in June 1996.
The 32-story casino-hotel modeled after the Place du Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco, was a joint venture between Steve Wynn's Mirage Resorts and Circus Circus Enterprises

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Queen Elizabeth II, left, in a portrait by Jeff Stultiens. Queen Victoria painting by Alexander Basano. (Left, Associated Press; Corbis)

Elizabeth II Outlives Victoria Today

Long live the Queen, indeed. Just past teatime in London today (or about 10 a.m. Eastern time), Elizabeth II will become the oldest monarch in Britain’s history, surpassing Victoria, who was 81 years, 7 months and 29 days old when she died in 1901.
Buckingham Palace says nothing special is planned to mark the occasion. The Lede pictures her sitting in a floral-upholstered wing chair, scratching one of her Corgis behind the ear and smiling enigmatically at the noteworthy moment.
Elizabeth has nearly eight years to go yet before she would overtake Victoria’s other noteworthy place in the monarchical record books, the length of her reign — 64 hugely eventful years, from the abolition of slavery to the Boer War. But the chances look pretty good: Elizabeth is thought to be fairly healthy, as octogenerians go, and her mother lived to be 101.
Britain has been remarkably lucky in its ruling queens. Only a handful of women have held the throne in their own right over the British monarchy’s long history, stretching back twelve centuries, but what queens they were: the remarkable Elizabeth I, who saw off the Armada in 1588 and set the country on its unique path to greatness; Victoria, on whose empire (and royal progeny) the sun never set; and now Elizabeth II, who has seen that empire transformed into Commonwealth and her country remade into a more modern kind of world power, in finance and the arts, democracy and diplomacy and diversity.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Stacy Peterson Search

Investigators hope a massive ground search set for this weekend in the case of Stacy Peterson, the 23-year-old pregnant Illinois woman missing since October, will lead to clues to her disappearance.
Authorities in particular are looking to recover a blue plastic barrel that police suspect may have been used to move Peterson's body from the home she shared with her husband, former Illinois cop Drew Peterson, who remains a suspect in the case.
Investigators also want divers to search for the barrel in the Calumet Sag Channel, a waterway a few miles from the Peterson home. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to clear out submerged cars that have prevented divers from safely entering the water.
The plastic drum allegedly was moved from the Peterson's Bolingbrook, Ill., house by Drew Peterson and his stepbrother the night that Stacy disappeared. The stepbrother, who has not been identified, later reportedly attempted suicide.
Walter Martinek, a friend of Peterson's stepbrother, told ABC's "Good Morning America" this week that the stepbrother spoke about the barrel the night he said he helped Drew Peterson move it. "A blue tote," Martinek said. "A sealed blue tote, and this is where he really got shook up, he goes, 'I know she was in there.'"
Martinek said he asked the stepbrother, "What do you mean you know she was in there?" And, Martinek continued, "he goes, 'It was warm to the touch.'"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Fires Out of Control as More Than 500,000 Flee

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 23 — Punishing winds and unstable thermal conditions — married with strained firefighting resources — stymied efforts Tuesday to contain a slew of wildfires burning for a third day across Southern California.
While firefighters late Tuesday began to get the upper hand on some fires in Los Angeles county, officials in San Diego were left worried that the fires could march toward more populated areas along the Pacific Ocean.
“As long as the east wind continues to blow, that is the direction things are going,” said Roxanne Provaznik, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “There are a lot of homes on that coastal community, so there is so much potential injury.”
By Tuesday, more than 400 square miles in seven counties had been consumed by some 16 fires, flames fueled by high desert winds and hot temperatures that remained largely impervious to air attacks, garden hoses, fire retardant or prayers for relief.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Barack Obama

So, what's wrong with Obama? Nothing. As long as Hilary doesn't get the nomination... all is well.

On the role of government in economic affairs, Obama has written: "we should be asking ourselves what mix of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation and upward mobility [...] we should be guided by what works."[118] Speaking before the National Press Club in April 2005, Obama defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with Social Darwinism.[119] In a May 2006 letter to President Bush, he joined four other Midwest farming state Senators in calling for the preservation of a US$0.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol.[120] Obama spoke out in June 2006 against making recent, temporary estate tax cuts permanent, calling the cuts a "Paris Hilton" tax break for "billionaire heirs and heiresses."[121

Bridge Collapses

The Interstate 35W Mississippi River eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota has collapsed on both sides of the highway over the Mississippi River during rush hour traffic. The entire length of the bridge over the river collapsed at 6:05 p.m. CDT (UTC-5). The road was busy with traffic in four lanes when the entire 500-foot (160 meter) steel arch bridge collapsed. The bridge, built in 1967, was 64 feet above the river.

At least nine people who were on the bridge at the time of the collapse have died, 60 have been injured and at least 20 are missing, still believed to be in the rubble. At least 50 cars were traveling on the bridge, including a school bus. The Red Cross said that 60 children were aboard a school bus, and that of those ten were admitted to a hospital. As many as 60 people have been injured due to the collapse.
Reports say that people may be trapped in the water. Further, "many voids may contain survivors, but we cannot search those voids until it's safe," said Jim Clack, Minneapolis Fire Chief, during a press conference.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I. Lewis Libby Jr. walks out of Federal Court House in Washington with his wife and his lawyers after the verdict on March 6.

Bush Commutes Libby’s Prison Sentence

WASHINGTON, July 2 — President Bush said today that he had used his power of clemency to commute the 30-month sentence for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury in March and was due to begin serving his time within weeks.

The action, announced just hours after a federal appeals court denied Mr. Libby’s request to allow him to remain free while his case is on appeal, spares Mr. Libby his prison term, but it does not excuse him from stiff fines or probation.
In a statement issued early this evening announcing his decision, Mr. Bush said he had listened to both critics and defenders of Mr. Libby, who was convicted of four felony counts for lying during a C.I.A. leak investigation.
“I respect the jury’s verdict,” Mr. Bush said. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tornado Ravages Sister Cities on Rio Grande

HOUSTON, April 25 — A fierce tornado southwest of San Antonio killed at least 10 people on both sides of the Mexican border Tuesday night, injured many others and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.
Fear remained Wednesday that the death toll could rise, as more than 500 searchers scoured the rubble in Eagle Pass, a financially struggling city of 22,400, which was pounded along with Piedras Negras, its sister city across the Rio Grande.
At least seven people died in Eagle Pass. Four of them appeared to have been members of one family living in a mobile home struck by the twister, said the Maverick County judge, Jose A. Aranda Jr. The three other dead were killed nearby, Mr. Aranda said.
Mayor Chad Foster said 76 people had been hospitalized, with 32 later discharged. Four of the injured were said to be in critical condition. About 40 homes were destroyed, Mayor Foster said, and 350 people were being put up in shelters.
In Piedras Negras, a city of 200,000, 3 people were killed and 26 injured, 6 of them critically, said Mayor Jesús Mario Flores. Piedras Negras was the scene of a flood three years ago that killed more than 30 people. But the tornado Tuesday night was even more severe in terms of material damage, and Mr. Flores said the Villa de Fuente section had taken the brunt of it. “There are about 300 houses that are completely destroyed” there, the mayor said. “They were wooden houses, and all the roofs are gone.” Two hundred homes suffered lesser damage in another part of the city, he said.
The tornado struck about 6:30 p.m., after heavy hail, and cut a swath of destruction nearly five miles wide.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Law enforcement officers take up positions on Clay Street on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech Shooting Kills at Least 31

At least 31 people were killed today on the campus of Virginia Tech in what appears to be the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, according to federal law-enforcement officials. Many of the victims were students shot in a dorm and a classroom building.
“Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” said the university’s president, Charles Steger.
Witnesses described scenes of mass chaos and unimaginable horror as some students were lined up against a wall and shot. Others jumped out of windows to escape, or crouched on floors to take cover.
There were two shootings on the campus in Blacksburg, Va., and in both instances there were fatalities with “multiple shooting victims,” Mr. Steger said.
The attacks started early in the morning, with a call to police at 7:15 a.m., as students were getting ready for classes or were on their way there. As the rampage unfolded over nearly three hours, details emerged from witnesses describing a gunman going room to room in a residence hall, and of gunfire later at a building where classes were held.
When it was over, sidewalks were stained with blood. Among those dead was the gunman.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power

Two years ago, the leaders of Saudi Arabia told international atomic regulators that they could foresee no need for the kingdom to develop nuclear power. Today, they are scrambling to hire atomic contractors, buy nuclear hardware and build support for a regional system of reactors.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

.U.N.L.V.'s Wendell White shooting during the first half.

U.N.L.V. Runs Wisconsin Out of the Tournament

CHICAGO, March 18 — After his team lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Ronnie Arrow did not hesitate to predict Wisconsin’s demise. He said that Nevada-Las Vegas matched up well with the Badgers and would beat them.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

8 Die in Storms in Alabama and Missouri

ATLANTA, March 1 — A storm system that stretched nearly 1,000 miles from the Midwest to the Southeast on Thursday killed at least eight people in two states, including five who died when an apparent tornado caused the roof to collapse at a high school in Enterprise, Ala., state emergency management officials said.
Some students remained unaccounted for late Thursday and could be trapped inside the building, said Larry Walker, deputy director of the Emergency Management Agency in Coffee County, in southeastern Alabama.
Students at Enterprise High School had just been ordered to take cover in hallways when fierce winds bore down at 1 p.m., plunging them into darkness and pounding them with falling debris.
“The ceiling part fell on us and rocks hit me on the back,” said Ezekiel Jones, 17, a senior who was in the gym when the apparent tornado struck. “I was thinking of my mom, my girlfriend, my sister and my friends. Everybody was screaming.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bush Says Iran Is Source of Deadly Bombs

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 -- President Bush said today he is certain that elements of the Iranian government are supplying deadly roadside bombs that kill American troops in Iraq, even if the innermost circle of the government is not involved.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In Los Angeles, Antigang Efforts Start on the Street

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28 — At twilight on Friday, in the heart of the territory of the latest notorious Los Angeles gang, a woman in a passing car calls out a tip to Officer Dan Robbins, sending him racing toward a corner and a man he believes is a member of the 204th Street gang.

As Officer Robbins’s black-and-white patrol car speeds forward, the man, Jose Covarrubias, 20, turns away and drops what appears to be a small pipe.
“Come here! Get your hands up!” Officer Robbins of the Los Angeles Police Department shouts as he jumps out of the car and handcuffs Mr. Covarrubias, arresting him on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia, a methamphetamine pipe.
“You arresting all the black people here on Harvard Boulevard, too?” Mr. Covarrubias asks, now seated on a curb, making plain the racial tension in this neighborhood, Harbor Gateway, that has commanded the city’s attention.
They know each other, this gang unit officer and Mr. Covarrubias, who Officer Robbins says is a relatively new member of 204th Street, a Latino gang that gained notoriety last month when two members were charged in what the police said was the racially motivated killing of a 14-year-old black girl, Cheryl Green.
The crime stunned the city as a sign of growing violence among blacks and Latinos in some struggling neighborhoods and brought renewed promises from the mayor, the police chief and the F.B.I. director to reverse a surge of gang violence. They have promised more officers chasing the worst gang members, more school and community counselors and more cooperation among agencies.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, shown in July, are vying for favor from the same groups, including women and blacks.

And the Losers Are....

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped into the 2008 presidential race yesterday, immediately squaring off against Senator Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic field in what is effectively the party’s first primary, the competition for campaign donations.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bush Plan for Iraq Requests More Troops and More Jobs

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — President Bush’s new Iraq strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000 American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing together the last parts of the initiative.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Airstrike Kills Taliban Leader, U.S. Military Says

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A top Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar was killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, the U.S. military said Saturday. A Taliban spokesman denied the claim.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said. Two associates also were killed, it said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Afghan officials or visual proof offered to support the claim. A U.S. spokesman said ''various sources'' were used to confirm Osmani's identity.

Osmani, regarded as one of three top associates of Omar, is the highest-ranking Taliban leader the coalition has claimed to have killed or captured since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in late 2001 for hosting bin Laden.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Tom Collins described Osmani's death as a ''big loss'' for the ultraconservative militia.

''There's no doubt that it will have an immediate impact on their ability to conduct attacks,'' Collins said. ''But the Taliban is fairly adaptive. They'll put somebody else in that position and we'll go after that person, too.''

He was regarded as highly ideological and was instrumental in some of the excesses of the Taliban rule such as the destruction of the ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan and the trial of Christian aid workers in 2001, Rashid said.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, denied that Osmani had been killed, saying the airstrike instead killed Mullah Abdul Zahir, a group commander, and three other Taliban fighters.

''I confirm that Osmani is alive and is in Afghanistan,'' Ahmadi told The Associated Press by phone from an undisclosed location.

Collins said officials waited four days to announce the news in part so that they could be sure it was Osmani who was killed.

''The vehicle was completely destroyed, there was nothing to recognize,'' Collins said. ''But we have various intelligence assets that we monitor, that we look at very closely, and of course we work with the intelligence agencies of the Afghan government and through those sources we are sure that he is dead.''

Osmani, the Taliban's chief military commander in southern Afghanistan, played a ''central role in facilitating terrorist operations'' including roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings, the U.S. said.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Aide Says Bush Plans Changes in Iraq Plan

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — President Bush plans “significant changes” in his approach to Iraq after he reviews options drafted by an outside panel of experts and suggestions from others in the administration and Congress, Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Resigns as Defense Secretary After Big Election Gains for Democrats

Published: November 8, 2006

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the hard-driving and super-confident Pentagon boss who came to symbolize President Bush’s controversial Iraq policy, is resigning, President Bush announced today.

Mr. Bush, appearing at the White House the day after the Republican Party suffered sweeping defeats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, said he and Mr. Rumsfeld had had “a series of thoughtful conversations” and agreed that “the time is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.”

The president said he would nominate Robert Gates, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and now president of Texas A & M University, to replace Mr. Rumsfeld.

While praising Mr. Rumsfeld as “a superb leader in a time of change,” Mr. Bush said both he and the departing secretary recognized the “value of a fresh perspective.”

Only days ago, Mr. Bush had voiced confidence in Mr. Rumsfeld, as he had consistently done since the start of his presidency. But Tuesday’s elections produced a furious reaction from the American public over a military campaign that has cost the lives of nearly 3,000 members of the armed forces and that many people of all political stripes have described as poorly managed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Hussein shouted today after his guilty verdict was read

Saddam Hussein Is Sentenced to Death

BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 — An Iraqi special tribunal today convicted Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity for the brutal repression of a Shiite town in the 1980s and sentenced him to death by hanging.

As the verdict was read, Mr. Hussein shouted, "Long live the people! Long live the Arab nation! Down with the spies!" He then chanted "God is great" several times. The chief judge, Raouf Abdul Rahman, tried to calm Mr. Hussein down. "There's no point," he said.

The five-judge panel, which heard more than nine months of testimony in the case, also issued death sentences for two of Mr. Hussein's seven co-defendants, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Mr. Hussein's half-brother, who was head of Iraq’s domestic intelligence agency; and Awad al-Bandar, president of Mr. Hussein's revolutionary court.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gen. George W. Casey Jr. appeared at an unusual joint news conference with the United States ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

General May Call for Increase in U.S. Troop Levels in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Oct. 24 — The top American military commander in Iraq said today that he might call for an increase in American troop levels in Baghdad as part of efforts to recapture the capital from insurgents and death squads that have pushed killings in the city to some of the highest levels of the war.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr. declined to specify steps to be taken to adjust the Baghdad security plan, which the American command said last week had failed to achieve targets for lowering violence when 7,000 additional American troops, roughly double the number previously deployed here, were assigned to Baghdad in August. At that time, American commanders described the stepped-up bid to regain control of the capital as a critical moment in the war, one that would likely determine its outcome.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yankee Dies in Plane Crash, Official Says

Published: October 11, 2006
Cory Lidle, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, was killed today when his small private plane crashed into a residential high-rise building on New York City’s Upper East Side, igniting several apartments before pieces of the aircraft crashed to the ground, a high-ranking city official confirmed late this afternoon.

The plane was registered to Mr. Lidle, who was a licensed pilot. At a news conference this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that a flight instructor and a student pilot with 75 hours of experience were aboard and killed, but he would not confirm that Mr. Lidle was one of them, saying the families of the victims had not yet been notified.

“No bodies were found in the building,” the mayor said, adding that 11 firefighters were also injured in the fire.

He said that the plane left Teterboro Airport in New Jersey at about 2:30 p.m., circled the Statute of Liberty and then headed north up the East River, where it “had not violated any air traffic control rules.”

The plane then lost touch with air traffic controllers, but radar showed that the plane flew near the 59th Street Bridge, he said.

Then, at 2:42 p.m., the mayor said, authorities received a 911 call reporting a crash at a building on 72nd Street.

“It’s very tragic,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We have to say a little prayer for those we lost, the two human beings whose lives were snuffed out.”

The aircraft struck at about the 40th or 41st floors of the building, known as the Belaire, at 524 E. 72nd St., near York Avenue. Flames shot out of the building, and smoke streamed up into the sky, visible for miles. The building was evacuated, the mayor said, but people were allowed to return later, after the fire was put out.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it would send a team of investigators from Washington this evening, to take charge of the investigation. The aircraft was not flying under the control of air traffic controllers at the time of the accident, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. As a result, the agency did not know the identity of the aircraft or its type.

Since the 1980’s, planes and helicopters have been allowed to fly over the East River, as well as the Hudson River, below 1,100 feet, without special permission. They fly under “visual flight rules,” meaning they avoid collisions by visually keeping track of other aircraft, and maneuvering to avoid conflicts. They are not required to file flight plans. They generally have transponders, devices that make them visible on radar, but they broadcast a generic code that identifies them as general aviation aircraft, rather than giving their particular identity.

The explosion after the crash, and the ensuing fire, interrupted the routine of the bustling East Side neighborhood. The Belaire has 50 floors, with several of the bottom floors housing offices for doctors and other professionals, and residences upstairs. The building is surrounded by several hospitals and medical offices.

Luis Gonzalez, 23, was one of several construction workers and others viewing plans for renovating an apartment in the Belaire when they looked out the window and saw a plane headed their way.

“It was coming right at us, directly at us at the floor where we were working on,” he said.

They could see the pilot’s face, he said, and then they saw the plane veering toward the right, as if the pilot was trying to avoid hitting them.

“The whole building shook,” he said. “Then we ran for the elevator.”

Rob Miranda, a carpenter also working in the building, was on the 46th floor and said the plane appeared to be wobbling as it approached.

“He was out of control,” Mr. Miranda said. “He was on an incline, accelerating as he passed. Then he hooked around the corner, he hit the north side of the building, and you heard a tremendous explosion.”

He said he and the other workers ran, checking the 38th and 39th floors for any people who needed to get out. As smoke quickly began filling up the rooms, they took the elevators down.

Kim Quarterman, 50, a doorman at 411 E. 70th St., said he heard a noise about 2:45 p.m.

“It sounded like a truck gearing down,” he said. “You know how a truck sounds when it’s trying not to hit something? Then I saw a cloud of smoke.”

After that, he picked up his daughter, Chablis Quarterman, 13, at a nearby school.

“My dad and I tried to get as close as we could, but by then, all you could see was smoke,” she said.

At the Belaire, Leonard Cutillo and George Acosta were waiting to see their doctor. Mr. Cutillo, who was leaning on a cane, had tears in his eyes and was shaking as he recounted what had happened.

“We’re sitting in the building, and we heard this tremendous noise and everything starts blowing out — glass, smoke, flames — and we just got out of there as quick as we could,” Mr. Cutillo said.

Laura Stern, who lives on the 27th floor of 515 East 79th Street, said she was in her living room, which has an unobstructed southern view of the Belaire.

“I saw huge flames shooting out of the Belaire,” she said at about 4 p.m. “I didn’t see the impact, but it’s huge. I can see it now. Black smoke. There’s still flames they haven’t put out. But it doesn’t look like it’s affected more than two stories.”

Alexa Lagnori, who lives across the street from the Belaire, at 525 E. 72nd Street, was in her apartment when the plane struck.

“I saw the fire and it seemed to be pouring out of five to 10 floors below,” she said.

She said firefighters responded quickly to put out the fire and comb over debris from the plane littering the ground. She got out of the building with her dog, Akira, through a back door.

“It looked as if something had hit the building very hard,” she said. “I thought at first it was a black plane, but it may have just been the smoke. It was frightening how much fire it caused.”


Mr. Lidle had been a major league pitcher for nine years.

He earned his pilot’s license during the last off-season and tried to assure everyone that his Cirrus SR20, a four-seat plane he bought for $187,000. was safe.

“The whole plane has a parachute on it,” he told The Times last month. “Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you’re up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly.”

Mr. Lidle is not the first Yankees player to die at the controls of an aircraft. . In 1979, Thurman Munson, the Yankee catcher and team captain, was killed in the crash of a plane he was flying.

Mr. Lidle, 34, lived in West Covina, Calif., 20 miles or so east of Los Angeles. He said he loved to take to the air.

“It’s basically to bring things a little closer to reach,” he said.

Reporting was contributed by Al Baker, Joe Drape, Anthony Ramirez, Matthew Sweeney, Natalie Layzell, John Holusha, Carla Baranauckas and Matthew L. Wald.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Only the NY Times....

NEW DELHI, Sept. 28 — The quest for water can drive a woman mad.

Ask Ritu Prasher. Every day, Mrs. Prasher, a homemaker in a middle-class neighborhood of this capital, rises at 6:30 a.m. and begins fretting about water.
It is a rare morning when water trickles through the pipes. More often, not a drop will come. So Mrs. Prasher will have to call a private water tanker, wait for it to show up, call again, wait some more and worry about whether enough buckets are filled in the bathroom in case no water arrives.

“Your whole day goes just planning how you’ll get water,” a weary Mrs. Prasher, 45, recounted one morning this summer, cellphone in hand and ready to press redial for the water tanker. “You become so edgy all the time.”

In the richest city in India, with the nation’s economy marching ahead at an enviable clip, middle-class people like Mrs. Prasher are reduced to foraging for water. Their predicament testifies to the government’s astonishing inability to deliver the most basic services to its citizens at a time when India asserts itself as a global power.

The crisis, decades in the making, has grown as fast as India in recent years. A soaring population, the warp-speed sprawl of cities, and a vast and thirsty farm belt have all put new strains on a feeble, ill-kept public water and sanitation network.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In a ceremony at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., on Monday with Air Force Reserve personnel, a flag was placed in the ground to represent each person killed on Sept. 11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Nation Marks Lives Lost and Hopeful Signs of Healing

Once more the leaden bells tolled in mourning, loved ones recited the names of the dead at ground zero, and a wounded but resilient America paused yesterday to remember the calamitous day when terrorist explosions rumbled like summer thunder and people fell from the sky.

On the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, as most Americans went about their Monday routines, thousands gathered at ground zero, at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania where the hijacked jetliners crashed. They included families and friends of the 2,973 people who died, President Bush and other public officials, and countless strangers united by haunting but receding memories.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This Article Says It All

Adam Geller from the Detroit Free Press hits the nail on the head with this article.

Just as before, law enforcement proved overeager and bumbling. Just as before, a hyperactive media went into overdrive, eager to pronounce guilt. And just as before, a nation of voyeurs proved only too ready to play pundit.

It's been almost a decade since the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, but it's taken less than two weeks of fevered -- and apparently pointless -- speculation to show how little things have changed.

That seemed clear Monday when prosecutors in Boulder, Colo., abruptly dropped their case against John Karr, saying DNA tests failed to put the 41-year-old itinerant teacher at the crime scene, despite his insistence that he had strangled the 6-year-old beauty queen at her home on Dec. 26, 1996.

"Because no evidence has developed, other than his own repeated admissions ... the people would not be able to establish that Mr. Karr committed this crime despite his repeated insistence that he did," District Attorney Mary Lacy said in court papers.

The admission by prosecutors that they had the wrong man might have seemed shocking if this had been any other case. But in the context of the Ramsey case -- an investigation beset from its earliest stages by gross misjudgments by investigators -- it struck many observers as not only expected, but also grimly fitting.

"If there's a single mistake they haven't made, I'm not sure what it is, said Philip Jenkins, a professor of history at Pennsylvania State University who has written on child molestation and serial murder. "It fits, but it makes the existing record worse."

Media jumped the gun -- again

The decision to drop the charges against Karr was made all the more fitting because Karr's arrest earlier this month came as the nation appeared almost to have forgotten the case.

Any hope of that ended Aug. 16, when police in Thailand arrested Karr and brought him before reporters, where he professed his guilt, saying he'd been with JonBenet at the time of her death.

When pressed, he would not, or could not, describe exactly what had happened. But there was enough about his persona -- a creepy narrative that included Karr's flight from child pornography charges in California -- to whip the news media and the public into a frenzy.

*click on the link for the full article*

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Live Cheap, Die Cheap..... Warning... Human error may cause death

Forty-nine people were killed today when a Comair passenger plane crashed just after takeoff in Lexington, Ky. One person survived the crash and was hospitalized. No immediate reason was given for the crash, but witnesses said in television interviews that they saw smoke and fire.

There were 47 passengers and three crew members on Comair flight 5191, which was traveling from Lexington to Atlanta, the airline’s president, Don Bornhorst, said.

The University of Kentucky hospital reported that the one survivor was in critical condition, according to The Associated Press. The Fayette County coroner’s office confirmed the 49 deaths.

Comair is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, based in Cincinnati. Mr. Bornhorst said at a televised news conference that the jet, operated by his airline as a Delta Connection commuter flight, crashed shortly after 6 a.m. about half a mile from the end of the runway in a wooded area.

“We can not speculate on the cause of this accident,” he said.

Asked whether the plane could have taken off from the wrong runway, which was a shorter one, officials at a news conference declined to comment and said there was an investigation taking place.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Truce Strained as Israelis Raid Lebanon Site

BOUDAI, Lebanon, Aug. 19 — Helicopter-borne Israeli commandos landed near the Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbek and engaged in a lengthy firefight in what the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, called a “flagrant violation” of the cease-fire brokered by the United Nations.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

British police officers guarded a house raided earlier in London’s Walthamstow District.

Plan Was to Sneak Liquid Explosives on Planes

LONDON, Aug. 10 — The British authorities said Thursday that they had thwarted an advanced terrorist plot to blow up airplanes flying from Britain to the United States using liquid explosives that would have escaped airport security.

The officials said they had arrested 24 men, all British-born Muslims, who planned to carry the liquids in drink bottles and combine them into explosive cocktails to commit mass murder aboard as many as 10 flights high over the Atlantic.

Intelligence officials said they believed that some plotters were probably still at large, requiring increased airport security.

Airports, which faced chaotic delays and cancellations, instantly changed rules on what passengers could carry on board. In the United States, liquids, gels and creams were banned from carry-on luggage. In Britain, all carry-on items were barred except objects like wallets and eyeglasses without their cases.

Officials said the plot — of which few concrete details were made known — bore the hallmarks of Al Qaeda and involved links to plotters in Pakistan.

Late Thursday, the authorities in Pakistan said an unspecified number of arrests had been made there, too.

An American counterterrorism official, who spoke in return for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said several of the plotters had traveled to Pakistan in the last few weeks and might have met there with at least one person affiliated with Al Qaeda. The official said it was after that person’s arrest by Pakistani authorities that the British, fearing that word of the detainment would send the plotters into hiding, decided to move in.

This is the latest in a series of conspiracies apparently rooted in the disaffection of young, British-born Muslims, many of Pakistani descent, who cast themselves as part of a jihadist struggle against Britain, which they see as an outrider of the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Lebanon.

It also mimicked a failed plot in the Philippines in 1995 financed by Osama bin Laden to blow up airplanes over the Pacific. That ended when the chemicals exploded at an apartment in Manila.

On Thursday, Britain raised its terror threat assessment by one notch to its highest level, “critical,” meaning an attack was imminent.

The American official said the plotters were planning a “dry run” of the operation in the next few days when they planned to test whether they could board flights simultaneously. If this had worked, a full-scale attack would have been carried out within days, the official said.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Risks Escalate as Israel Fights a Ground War

JERUSALEM, Aug. 4 — After resisting a major ground offensive for three weeks, Israel now has an estimated 10,000 troops in southern Lebanon trying to build a buffer zone free of Hezbollah, and the risks are already evident. Seven Israeli soldiers have been killed in two days of brutal battles on territory the guerrillas know far better than the Israelis.

The plan of the country’s military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, an air force man, to destroy Hezbollah from the air has proved wanting, and now, nervously, Israel is sending the country’s young men into the forbidding hills of southern Lebanon, where its forces battled Hezbollah for 18 years before pulling out in May 2000.

“We certainly hope that some international resolution will come before another 18 years passes,” Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan said.

In the past few days the troops have crossed the border by the thousands — with seven brigades, including reserve units, totaling around 10,000 troops — now in Lebanon, according to army radio and other Israeli news reports.

“In the first days, we concentrated very much on the air campaign,” said General Nehushtan, who declined to comment on the reported figures on ground troops in Lebanon. “Now we want to clear Hezbollah from all areas near the border. Our plan is to push north on a much larger scale.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Gaza home destroyed by Israel Monday. The Israeli Army called the homeowner to warn him about the attack, and his family was evacuated.

Up to 10,000 Israeli Troops Push Into Lebanon

MISGAV AM, Israel, Aug. 1 — Up to 10,000 Israeli troops pushed into Lebanon on a wider front today after the Israeli cabinet decided to widen its offensive, aiming to push Hezbollah back from the border before a cease-fire is declared and a multinational force is deployed there.

Israeli troops backed by air support, tanks and armored bulldozers entered Lebanon at four different places along the border, moving up to four and a half miles inside Lebanon to engage Hezbollah fighters and destroy their outposts and infrastructure.

Red-and-white tourist buses full of soldiers who had waited for more than two weeks for orders moved into Lebanon today through corridors cleared by bulldozers, tanks and engineering units.

There were house-to-house battles with hundreds of Hezbollah fighters in Lebanese towns and villages close to the border, but the fighting has been intermittent and closely contained, partly to keep down Israeli casualties.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Israeli military continued to hit targets in southern Lebanon on Friday, July 21, and warn residents to head northward.

Israel continued to drop leaflets warning residents of southern Lebanon to leave their homes.

Israel Calls Up Reserves, a Sign of Wider Ground Raids

JERUSALEM, July 21 —With small units already operating in southern Lebanon, the Israeli military massed armored vehicles near its northern border today and called up several thousand reserve soldiers, suggesting that expanded ground operations and extended combat may lie ahead.

The heavy fighting, now in its 10th day, showed no signs of letting up. The Israeli Air Force blasted targets throughout Lebanon today, and for the second day, dropped leaflets in Hezbollah-dominated areas of south Lebanon warning residents to move north of the Litani River. The leaflets also hinted at the prospect of wider Israeli ground operations.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, most of them Shiite villagers, live south of the river, which is about 12 miles north of Lebanon’s border with Israel. Many already have fled, and more are leaving daily.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, continued to rain rockets on northern Israel.

Israeli jets hit Shiite districts in Beirut’s southern suburbs, the eastern Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon around sunrise. The Israelis also bombed the Mdeirej bridge on the main Beirut-Damascus highway, which had already been hit twice before.

Counting at least 12 Lebanese killed today, about 350 people have so far lost their lives in the Israeli air, sea and ground assault throughout Lebanon. The great majority of those killed were civilians, according to Lebanese officials. An estimated half-million Lebanese throughout the country have fled their homes.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

While fires burn from fuel storage tanks from an earlier bombing run, an Israeli air strike hits the runway of Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut.

The face-off between Israel and the Lebanese group Hezbollah escalated sharply on July 14 as Israeli soldiers, above, fired shells toward targets in Lebanon and Hezbollah shelled northern Israel.

Israel Widens Scope of Attacks Across Lebanon

METULA, Israel, Sunday, July 16 — Expanding the reach of its airstrikes, Israel on Saturday hit coastal radar installations in northern Lebanon that it said were targeting its warships and early Sunday bombed the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Israel also struck roads in Lebanon’s north and east on Saturday, with one attack killing at least 16 civilians, most of them children. At the same time, Hezbollah forces continued their rocket barrage into northern Israel, striking the resort city of Tiberias for the first time.

The widening conflict stirred a meeting of world leaders in Russia, where President Bush called on Syria to use its influence with Hezbollah to end the fighting. At an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, the Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, said the participants “all decided that the peace process has failed,” and that they would turn to the United Nations Security Council for help.

Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes on Saturday, hitting Jounieh, Tripoli and other northern ports.

A Lebanese civilian convoy was hit near the coastal town of Tyre after fleeing the border village of Marwaheen, resulting in 16 deaths. The Israeli military said the area was a target because Hezbollah had used it to launch missiles, and regretted any civilian casualties. It was the deadliest single attack in the past four days of fighting.

The villagers left after the Israeli military told them to evacuate over a loudspeaker, Reuters reported.

Israeli aircraft also fired a missile at the new lighthouse in the seafront Manara district near downtown Beirut, the first time this part of the city was struck.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Israeli artillery unit fires across the border into southern Lebanon from a position on the frontier in Zaura, northern Israel.

Israeli Forces Enter Lebanon After 2 Soldiers Are Seized

JERUSALEM, July 12 — With two more soldiers captured today, Israel launched a major military offensive on a second front, sending armored forces into southern Lebanon in response to a brazen border raid by the militant group Hezbollah that killed at least seven soldiers in addition to those abducted.

The new Israeli incursion came on a day when the army was still expanding its two-week-old operations in the Gaza Strip, seeking the return of a soldier captured by Palestinian militants inside Israel on June 25. More than 20 Palestinians were killed in Gaza today, most in airstrikes and many of them civilians, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Hezbollah’s assault on Israeli soldiers inside Israeli territory bore similarities to the raid by the Palestinians last month, and suddenly, the crisis on Israel’s southern flank had essentially been replicated on its northern border, ratcheting up tensions even further.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombs Explode on Trains in India, Killing Scores

NEW DELHI, July 11 — A string of powerful explosions ripped up and down the spine of Mumbai’s commuter train system during rush hour today, bringing India’s financial capital to a panicked standstill and resurrecting memories of bloodbaths past.

No firm casualty figures were available immediately. The state’s top police official, P.S. Pasricha, said on Indian television that at least 70 people had died from the bomb blasts. The chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, said injuries could be as high as 300. The Associated Press reported a death toll exceeding 130.

It was quickly apparent however that the attacks were as cold-blooded as they were well-coordinated. The high-intensity blasts struck seven trains, along the western railway line of the city’s commuter train line, all within minutes of one another, between 6 and 7 p.m. local time, during peak traffic. Every day, more than six million people ride the trains in Mumbai, also known as Bombay, making it among the busiest public transportation system in the world. The death toll is certainly expected to climb.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Liftoff: Discovery soars on Fourth of July on first shuttle flight in year

July 4, 2006 (Last Updated: 3:34:45 PM) (CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) - In a majestic Independence Day liftoff, Discovery and its crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on the first space shuttle launch in a year, flying over objections from those within NASA who argued for more fuel-tank repairs.

NASA's first-ever Fourth of July manned launch came after two weather delays and last-minute foam trouble that added to worries that have dogged the space agency since Columbia was doomed by a flyaway chunk of fuel tank insulation foam 3 1/2 years ago.
Discovery thundered away from its seaside pad at 1:38 p.m. CDT

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel attended an award ceremony today at his office in Jerusalem.

Israelis Batter Gaza and Seize Hamas Officials

GAZA, Thursday, June 29 — Israel stepped up its confrontation on Wednesday with Palestinian militants over the capture of an Israeli soldier, battering northern Gazan towns with artillery and sending warplanes over the house of the Syrian president, who is influential with the Palestinian leader believed to have ordered the kidnapping.

Livingston Manor, N.Y., in Sullivan County, has seen extensive flooding. Thousands of people have been evacuated around the Northeast today.

Mid-Atlantic States Reel Under a Deluge of Rain

A network of swollen rivers, heavy from days of steady rain, spilled across their banks yesterday, threatening to inundate towns and cities from Virginia to Vermont and causing thousands of evacuations along the banks of the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Friday, June 23, 2006

7 Men Charged in Alleged U.S. Terror Plot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A group of young men seized in a Miami warehouse have been charged in a federal indictment with conspiring with al-Qaida to ''levy war against the United States'' by committing acts of violence including blowing up Chicago's Sears Tower.

The seven individuals indicted by a federal grand jury were taken into custody Thursday when authorities swarmed the warehouse in the Liberty City area, removing a metal door with a blow torch. The indictment also alleges plans to blow a federal building in Miami in conjunction with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top-level Bush administration officials scheduled a news conference for later Friday and a similar briefing was in Miami. The seven were expected to appear in court later Friday.

Man found dead in strip club torched it himself, police say

This would be a great story if the guy didn't kill himself.

June 21, 2006 (KENNEY, Ill.) - DeWitt County authorities say a man found dead last month in the rubble of a fire-gutted nightclub appears to have set the blaze himself in an attempt to prevent a young woman from pursuing the life of a stripper.

An autopsy showed William Hubble died of smoke inhalation in the fire that destroyed the Wildside Cabaret on May 12th.

DeWitt County Sheriff's Detective Rick Hawn says the man's blood-alcohol level was more than three times the state's legal limit for driving.

Authorities say Wildside patrons and employees said that Hubble had met a woman the evening before the fire and spent three hours talking to her.

They say she was stripping for the first time, and Hubble wanted to talk her out of that line of work.

Hawn says when the girl insisted on stripping, Hubble apparently decided to remove the situation from her.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

U.S. Activates Missile Defense

WASHINGTON (June 21) - The United States has activated its ground-based interceptor missile-defense system amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

Pentagon officials declined to say whether they would try to shoot down any missile launched by the reclusive communist state, but other U.S. officials have said that is unlikely, assuming the launch is aimed at open water.

Many U.S. experts say Pyongyang has a legal right to test and there are questions about the accuracy of U.S. missile defenses.

Pyongyang had no immediate comment, but a North Korean official said earlier the country does not feel bound by pledges to halt test firings of long-range missiles.

A U.S. defense official confirmed a Washington Times report that the Pentagon had switched its multibillion-dollar missile-defense system from test mode to operational.

"It's good to be ready," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff, asked whether the United States would try to shoot down a North Korean missile, said: "We have a limited missile-defense system ... We don't discuss the alert status or the specific capabilities."

On Iraq, Kerry Again Leaves Democrats Fuming

WASHINGTON, June 20 — When Senator John Kerry was their presidential nominee in 2004, Democrats fervently wished he would express himself firmly about the Iraq war.

Mr. Kerry has found his resolve. But it has not made his fellow Democrats any happier. They fear the latest evolution of Mr. Kerry's views on Iraq may now complicate their hopes of taking back a majority in Congress in 2006.

As the Senate prepared for what promises to be a sharp debate starting on Wednesday about whether to begin pulling troops from Iraq, the Democratic leadership wants its members to rally behind a proposal that calls for some troops to move out by the end of this year but does not set a fixed date for complete withdrawal. Mr. Kerry has insisted on setting a date, for American combat troops to pull out in 12 months, saying anything less is too cautious.

In drawing up a schedule for the Wednesday session, the Democratic leadership has arranged for its plan to be debated first, pushing Mr. Kerry and his proposal into the evening, too late for the nightly television news, to starve it of some attention.

Senate Democrats have been loath to express their opinions publicly, determined to emphasize a united front. But interviews suggest a frustration with Mr. Kerry, never popular among the caucus, and still unpopular among many Democrats for failing to defeat a president they considered vulnerable. Privately, some of his Democratic peers complain that he is too focused on the next presidential campaign.

And this guy was almost President.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bush hails killing of al-Qaida leader in Iraq

June 8, 2006 (WASHINGTON) - President Bush said Thursday that killing terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi struck a severe blow to al-Qaida and opens a new opportunity for the fledging democracy in Iraq.

"Now Zarqawi has met his end, and this violent man will never murder again," Bush said in the Rose Garden as he announced the U.S. airstrike on the militant whom Osama bin Laden had dubbed the "emir," or prince, of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said a terrorist mastermind is gone.

"Over the past several years no single person on this planet has had the blood of more innocent men, women and children on his hands," Rumsfeld said at a meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels. But he cautioned al-Zarqawi's death "will not mean the end of all violence in that country."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

6 World Powers Strike a Deal on Iran

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Six world powers meeting to discuss the crisis over Iran's nuclear program agreed Thursday on a package of incentives to convince Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket said.

"I am pleased to say we have agreed (on) a set of far-reaching proposals," she said. "We believe they offer Iran the chance to reach a negotiated agreement based on cooperation."

She added that "if Iran agrees not to engage in negotiations, further steps will have to be taken."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

In Bantul, villagers mourned on Saturday and prepared mass graves for victims of a powerful early morning earthquake that leveled buildings.

Earthquake Leaves Thousands Dead in Indonesia

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A powerful earthquake flattened homes and hotels in central Indonesia early Saturday as people slept, killing at least 2,900 and injuring thousands more in the nation's worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

The magnitude-6.2 quake struck at 5:54 a.m. near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, 250 miles east of the capital, Jakarta. It was centered about six miles below the surface, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Monday, May 22, 2006

President visits Chicago Monday

May 22, 2006 - President Bush is expected to discuss Iraq's new national unity government during a Monday visit to Chicago.

Bush will talk about how the new government represents an opportunity for Iraq to move forward because it has a four-year mandate, not just a temporary hold on power. He'll make his remarks at a gathering of the National Restaurant Association.
Iraq's 275-member parliament approved the new government today. U-S officials hope the new government will help clear the way for the withdrawal of American troops.

The new Shiite Muslim, Sunni Arab and Kurdish cabinet ministers took their oaths of office during a nationally televised session in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Afterward, Bush pledged continued support for Iraq as it -- quote -- "takes its place among the world's democracies and as an ally in the war on terror."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

U.S. Restores Diplomatic Ties to Libya

The United States has decided to restore full diplomatic relations with Libya and remove it from the list of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced this morning.

Ms. Rice called the moves "tangible results that flow from the historic decisions taken by Libya's leadership in 2003 to renounce terrorism and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs."

She also used the occasion to hold out hope for improvement in the current standoffs between the Bush administration and Iran and North Korea, which have been accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

"Just as 2003 marked a turning point for the Libyan people so too could 2006 mark turning points for the peoples of Iran and North Korea," Ms. Rice said in a statement. "Libya is an important model as nations around the world press for changes in behavior by the Iranian and North Korean regimes."

Libya came forward in December 2003, disclosing its secret nuclear and missile programs and promising to cooperate fully with international investigations. American officials say the information gleaned from Libyan records was crucial in tracking the reach of the illegal proliferation network run by A.Q. Khan, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist.

The United States reopened a two-person interest section in the Belgian embassy in Tripoli in 2004, but has not had an ambassador there since 1972, three years after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seized power in a coup. The ambassador was withdrawn to protest his support for "international terrorism and subversion against moderate Arab and African governments," according to the State Department's Country Note on Libya. The entire embassy was withdrawn in 1979 after a mob set fire to it.

What followed was several decades of steady clashes, including the designation of Libya as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, the expulsion of the Libyan embassy from Washington in 1981, an incident in the same year in which two United States jets shot down two Libyan jets that had fired on them during a naval exercise; the bombing of targets in Tripoli in 1986 in retaliation for Libyan involvement in a bombing in Berlin that killed two American servicemen.

In addition to numerous sanctions imposed by the United States during these conflicts, Libya was placed under United Nations sanctions after investigators determined that it was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

Libya's isolation has been easing since 1994, when it allowed two of intelligence officers to be tried for the Lockerbie bombing in the Hague. When the men were transferred to the Netherlands in 1999, the United Nations suspended its sanctions. In 2001, one of the men was found guilty and one not guilty. In 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing and made an offer to relatives who had filed suit against it. While it has made payments under the settlement, Libya has said that the final installments will not be released until it was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrrorism, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

Since the Sept. 11th attacks, which were denounced by Mr. Qaddafi, American officials have praised Libya's cooperation in the pursuit of terrorists.

Ms. Rice said today that Libya will be omitted the from the annual certification of countries not cooperating fully with the United States' anti-terrorism efforts.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This Guy Is A Joke

In his letter to President Bush, Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared that Western-style democracy had failed and that the use of secret prisons in Europe and aspects of the war in Iraq could not be reconciled with Mr. Bush's Christian values. But the letter did not address directly the central issue that divides the two countries: Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Iranian armed forces paraded in Tehran on Tuesday to mark Army Day

U.S. and Iran Take Tough Stances in Standoff

WASHINGTON, April 18 —As diplomats meeting in Moscow failed to reach agreement on how best to raise pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, the American and Iranian presidents, both using tough language, staked out unyielding positions today.

In response to a reporter's question, President Bush declined to rule out a nuclear attack to stop Iran from building atomic weapons if diplomacy fails. "All options are on the table," he said. But Mr. Bush added, "We want to solve this issue diplomatically, and we're working hard to do so."

In Tehran, a defiant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Iranian military that it had to be "constantly ready," and he warned bluntly that Iran would "cut off the hand of any aggressor," The Associated Press reported.

In Moscow, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said diplomats of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany had recognized the "need for a stiff response to Iran's flagrant violations of its international responsibilities," The Associated Press reported.

But he said talks on possible sanctions against Tehran had failed to produce an agreement. Mr. Burns said the United States expected Security Council action if Iran misses an April 28 deadline to stop uranium enrichment.

Neither Mr. Burns nor other American officials would say whether Russia and China had softened their opposition to sanctions.

Rumsfeld Stepping Down? Not Likely!

WASHINGTON (April 18) - Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he hasn't considered resigning despite calls for him to do so by a half dozen retired generals, and that whether he should remain as secretary of defense is up to President Bush.

Asked at a Pentagon briefing whether he would consider resigning to ease political pressure on Bush and Republicans in Congress, Rumsfeld said, "No."

"The president knows, as I know, there are no indispensable men ... He knows that I serve at his pleasure, and that's that," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld spoke several hours after Bush reiterated his support for Rumsfeld. "I'm the decider and I decide what's best," Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden as he announced several White House staff changes. "And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

Rumsfeld said he is proud of his five-year tenure of overseeing the Pentagon, through wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a major restructuring of the armed forces.

He suggested that many in the military were naturally resistant to changes.

"These are important issues that are involved. There's no question about that. Change is difficult. It also happens to be urgently necessary," Rumsfeld said.

Under his leadership, he said, the first Marine corps general - Peter Pace - has been promoted to the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Many expensive weapons systems have been canceled, like the Crusader mobile artillery system, and some U.S. forces have been brought home from Europe and South Korea.

"I look back on those decisions and I am proud of them. They caused a lot of ruffles," Rumsfeld said.

With the past month, six retired generals have called for Rumsfeld to resign, accusing him of mishandling the Iraq war, ignoring advice of military commanders and having an arrogant management style.

In what seemed to be a swipe at such critics, Rumsfeld said, "People who are often talking about what's taking place inside here don't know what's taking place inside here."

As to the recent criticism of him from one-time commanders, Rumsfeld said, "We should be reasonably tolerant with respect to things that get said."

Asked whether there was any validity to the criticism of him, Rumsfeld said, "Well, you know, I've been hearing all about all of this, and I would prefer to let a little time walk over it."

"I think that because of the importance of these matters that are being discussed, I'd like to reflect on them a bit," Rumsfeld said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said Tuesday that Democratic senators have discussed trying to force the Senate to take a symbolic vote testing the support Rumsfeld has when Congress returns next week from its spring recess.

Durbin has said Rumsfeld should step down.

"I think we need to have a vote of confidence on Secretary Rumsfeld. Let the Senate go on record," Durbin told reporters in Springfield, Ill.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Cubs Off to a Great Start

The Chicago Cubs this year seem to know what's important, winning games early. After completing a sweep of the division rival St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs are 4 and 1.
Here's the story from the Cubs website:

CHICAGO -- Imagine having a tornado drop a large tree into your living room, then having to face St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen with the game on the line.
That's the kind of nightmarish, dream-like weekend Michael Barrett had.

On Friday, in the Chicago Cubs' home opener, Barrett caught Greg Maddux, who pitched masterfully for the win. On Saturday, he hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run against the St. Louis Cardinals. He topped that Sunday night when he belted his second career grand slam in the eighth inning to help post an 8-4 win and sweep the series.

And Barrett did so after learning that a tree had crashed into his living room Friday in his Alpharetta, Ga., home, because of a tornado that ripped through the neighborhood.

Isringhausen (0-1) came into the game with none out and one on, and walked both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, neither intentionally, to set up Barrett's blast, which cleared the left-field bleachers.

"I've never seen him that wild," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of Isringhausen, who had 39 saves last season. "Anybody is capable of losing their control. He doesn't lose it that often. I don't think I've seen him blow one ever. We'll just take it and savor it."

Barrett wasn't thinking home run or even extra-base hit, or even about his upcoming remodeling bill.

"As good as his stuff is, I'm not thinking anything but try to put a good swing on it, and I just ran into one," he said. "When [Isringhausen] loaded the bases like that and I came up to hit, and the first pitch he laid in for a strike, I thought, 'Here we go, he's back on track.' I expected him coming at me with his best stuff, and he did.

"The last pitch there, I know it's not where he wanted it because it was a little more of the plate," Barrett said. "I think because I wasn't trying to do anything but put a good swing on the ball, that's why the ball jumped out."

It's the first time the Cubs have swept the Cardinals at Wrigley Field since June 5-7, 2001, and it served as career win No. 1,110 for Baker.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui testified that he and Richard C. Reid were supposed to fly an airplane into the White House.

Jury Finds Moussaoui Eligible for Execution

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 3 — A federal jury found today that Zacarias Moussaoui was responsible for at least some of the deaths that occurred in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, meaning that he could be subject to the death penalty.

In concluding unanimously today that the defendant lied to federal agents after his arrest in August 2001, that he did so contemplating that human life would be taken, and that at least one victim of the Sept. 11 attacks died as a direct result of his deception, the jurors said death should at least be considered as the appropriate punishment.

The jury of nine men and three women now move into the next phase of the sentencing trial, in which they will decide whether he should actually be executed by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Before reaching that decision, the jurors will hear evidence of factors both favorable and unfavorable to the defendant. Relatives of Sept. 11 victims will be among those testifying.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

French police battle protesters with water canons, right, and tear gas, left, in the Place de Republique in Paris.

Hundreds of Thousands Protest French Labor Law

PARIS, March 28 — Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of cities across France today in the biggest show of force to date against Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his new labor law targeting youth.

The police said that 450,000 people turned out nationwide, not including Paris, where hundreds of thousands more people marched in a colorful, mainly peaceful demonstration marked by scattered incidents of violence.

One of the country's largest unions, the CGT, put the nationwide figure at 3 million, a turnout that the CGT secretary general, Bernard Thibault, hailed as "historic."

Incidents erupted in Paris and several other cities, including Nantes, La Rochelle, Grenoble and Bordeaux, Europe 1 radio reported. In Paris, about 100 hooded youths clashed with the police in midafternoon, the radio and witnesses said, and toward the end of the march the police fired tear gas to disperse hard-core elements.

The marches were part of a nationwide day of action against the Villepin legislation, which was intended to encourage hiring by making it easy for companies to fire workers under age 26 during their first two years on the job.

Monday, March 20, 2006

President Bush said Sunday he was encouraged by the progress toward forming a unity government in Iraq.

Bush Bluntly Defends Iraq Strategy, but Admits Problems

President Bush gave a blunt defense of the American strategy in Iraq today, while acknowledging that ordinary Iraqis had been left exposed to the horrors of terrorism during the war's earlier stages.

As the debate continued over where the war is headed at its third anniversary, a leading Democrat, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., called on Mr. Bush to throw himself into an all-out effort to forge a government of national unity in Iraq and to begin planning for a civil war that was likely to follow if the effort failed.

Mr. Bush delivered an account from the Iraq war today that was both uncharacteristically grim and characteristically optimistic. Speaking to the City Club in Cleveland, the president told how Tal Afar, a city in western Iraq, had been freed from the control of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which had taken over after a too-brief military operation by American forces in 2004.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tornados Kill 10 but Unfortunately Come Nowhere Near Me

Scores of tornadoes whipped across the midwestern United States, killing at least 10 people, while a massive wildfire left seven people dead in Texas, officials and local media reported.

"There was a storm system that moved through the central US that brought everything from tornadoes to heavy snow to flooding in some areas," Pat Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, told AFP.

"Missouri had more tornadoes in one day then they usually have in a season," he said, adding that the weather service had not yet confirmed the state's 110 tornado reports.
- The Drudge Report (3/13/2006)

Yeah, I stayed up all night Sunday waiting for the supercell that was tearing through Missouri. It had a history of large hail and strong rotation and for hours was prompting tornado warnings from Oklahoma to the Ozarks in Missouri. I was almost praying that it would hit me. (I'm not crazy, I just wanted to get in my car and chase it.) As soon as it got within 50 miles, the rogue cell which was ahead of the main squall line began to turn in a more northeasterly direction straight towards not only my county but my town. I was so happy for a few minutes until the tornado warnings started getting replaced with severe thunderstorm warnings and finally no warning at all. As the light rain began to fall, I cursed the random workings of our climate.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubai Gives Up

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bowing to ferocious opposition in Congress, a Dubai-owned company signaled surrender Thursday in its quest to take over operations at U.S. ports.

"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity," the firm's top executive, H. Edward Bilkey, said in an announcement that capped weeks of controversy.

Relieved Republicans in Congress said the firm had pledged full divestiture, a decision that one senator said had been approved personally by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

"The devil is in the details," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, reflecting a sentiment expressed by numerous critics of the deal.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

South Dakota Bans Abortion, Setting Up a Battle

Gov. Michael Rounds of South Dakota signed into law the nation's most sweeping state abortion ban on Monday, an intentional provocation meant to set up a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

President Bush shaking hands with President Karzai during a joint news conference.

President Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

NEW DELHI, March 1 - President Bush made a surprise five-hour visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday to meet with President Hamid Karzai and to see for the first time the country created after the United States went to war against the Taliban in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In a news conference with Mr. Karzai, Mr Bush said he remained confident of the capture of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the apprehension of the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. “It’s not a matter of if they’re captured, it’s a matter of when they’re brought to justice,’’ Mr. Bush said.

The president deflected a question about the increasing violence from Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan and also played down the possibility of announcing a nuclear power agreement with India on a visit to New Delhi, where he was expected to arrive Wednesday night.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dublin Protests Halt a March By Ulsterites

DUBLIN, Feb. 25 — A planned parade by Northern Irish Protestant groups through the capital of the Irish republic led to violent clashes between protesters and the police on Saturday, forcing cancellation of the march and briefly turning a sunny afternoon into a melee, with bricks flying over the heads of weekend shoppers. Five people were injured.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

3 Charged With Conspiring to Kill U.S. Troops in Iraq

Finally, some news we can cheer about!

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 — Three Ohioans were charged in federal courts on Tuesday with conspiring to kill American forces in Iraq as part of an Islamic holy war against the United States.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told reporters here that the three, originally from Jordan and Lebanon and living in Toledo, were "engaging in weapons training, sympathizing with the terrorists and seeking to provide help in order to kill people abroad, including our troops."

The three, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, a dual citizen of Jordan and the United States; Marwan Othman el-Hindi, 42, a naturalized citizen born in Jordan; and Wassim I. Mazloum, 24, a legal permanent resident, were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts overseas and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Mr. Amawi is also charged with making threats to kill President Bush.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Rescuers found only a few survivors on Saturday in the mud that buried Guinsaugon, the Philippines.

Few Found Alive After Mud Buries Town in Philippines

LILOAN, the Philippines, Feb. 18 — Rescuers struggling through soft, thick mud found bodies on Saturday but no more survivors of the mountain collapse that buried a southern Philippines town the day before, apparently killing almost all of its 1,800 residents.

Witnesses in Guinsaugon, about 14 miles from this small town and 400 miles south of Manila, said there was no longer any sign of the town — only what looked like a newly plowed field, with bits and pieces of roofing and debris from 375 destroyed homes sticking up through the mud.

Rescuers were having difficulty reaching Guinsaugon, on the island of Leyte, and when they arrived, they found their every effort hampered by the mud, which was at least 30 feet deep in some spots. Walking was nearly impossible, and bringing in heavy equipment to dig out survivors seemed out of the question.

"We presume that more or less than 1,800 are feared dead," said Lt. Col. Raul Farnacio, who was overseeing the rescue effort. The Associated Press reported that only 57 survivors and 55 bodies had been found out of a population listed as 1,857.

The colonel said that many more bodies had been found, but that rescuers — who were feeling bodies under their feet as they slogged through the mud — were trying to focus on the living.

"There's just too many dead bodies," he said. "For now, we are just leaving the dead because our main concern is to recover the survivors if there are any. If you ask me, hopes are dimming."

One survivor, Alfredo Guab, 27, told The A.P. that the inundation had taken no more than two minutes to bury the entire village.

Like other survivors, he said he heard what sounded like a loud explosion before the mud came cascading down.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Navigating icy pools in Manhattan, at 136th Street and Broadway. Dry socks, anyone?

Slush 1, Pedestrians 0

I found this article from the NY Times rather humerous.

Having endured the big snow, 26.9 inches in 24 hours, New York endured something yesterday that created fresh headaches: the big melt.

That was why pedestrians crossing the street had to do the long jump at the corner. On a day when the temperature climbed as much as nine degrees above freezing, puddles loomed like lakes.
It was why blocks of snow the size of Ping-Pong tables broke free and sailed off rooftops, creating instant snow flurries, unless they landed on someone, creating an instant snowman.
It was why street-level streams beneath elevated subways in Queens were fed by a daylong drizzle from the tracks and platforms.
It was why cars seemed to spray a slushy, mucky mess wherever they went, and why people who just wanted to have one last snowball fight — and wanted to have it on the street — were splashed and splattered by buses whose drivers just wanted to keep to their schedules.
"It's disgusting," said Renee Young, a publicist in Manhattan. "Water is pouring off the buildings, so if you walk too close to the buildings, you get drenched."
And then there was what was underfoot, an unpredictable and potentially slippery coating on the pavement.
"You have to concentrate," said Evelyn Gatzonis, who owns a spa in Astoria, Queens, and walked to work in leather boots with 41/2-inch stiletto heels. (It was Valentine's Day, after all, she said.)
There was a lot to concentrate on: avoiding potholes in the making, and avoiding the sludgy, brackish liquid that had already filled them.
"It's like a strawberry daiquiri that's been out for five minutes and the stuff has started to separate so the syrup's on the bottom and ice is on the top," said Adele Morrissette, an investment banker whose office is in Rockefeller Center. "In this case, the syrup ... you don't want to know. The streets weren't clean before it snowed."
There will probably be more syrup today, as the forecast calls for the temperature in Manhattan to rise to 52 degrees, and more grumbling. Gladis Wallace of the Bronx said she loved a good snowstorm, "but the aftermath is a bit much."

"You've got big puddles of ice-cold melted snow," Ms. Wallace said. "You've got to jump over them. I've been trying to find a way around them without having to step into a puddle that's past your ankle."

Charles G. Sturcken, a spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection, posited that when melted, a foot of snow equals an inch of rain. "So this is really like three inches of rain," he said. "The sewers should be able to handle this. Had we gotten rain at 51 degrees, between the melt and the rain, you'd fill up the system and go overboard. But this looks like an easy melt."

Not on the street, where the big melt changed the routines of those trying to get around.
"On Day 1, it was a mountain-climbing thing," said Lisa Kovitz, who commutes to Manhattan from Ossining, N.Y. "You have to step in the footprints of the other person.
"By Day 2, someone has taken some sort of sharp object and cut the Khyber Pass in the mountain," she continued, "but at the other end of the Khyber Pass is the lake."
Ms. Morrissette, the investment banker, encountered a lake on the way to work, in ankle-high hiking boots, and water seeped in through the eyelets. For the rest of the day, she alternated between the sunny side of the street, with puddles, and the shady side, where the walkways were narrower because there was more snow.
Judith Altreuter, the production director of the Modern Language Association in Manhattan, had the reason behind the lake problem figured out. "Why don't they shovel the drains?" she asked. "It's so obvious that's the reason. The people who shovel, how hard would it be for them to learn where the drains were? In 25 years of living in New York, I've seen no advance on this learning curve."
But Keith Mellis, a spokesman for the Sanitation Department, said workers were paying attention to the drains, which his agency calls catch basins.
"They need to be clear," he said. "We're out there clearing them. We're getting the bulk of the snow out of the way, but when Mother Nature helps us even more with warmer weather, we want to make sure the catch basins are able to receive the receding water."
People who did not excavate their cars on Monday faced a double headache yesterday: snow and water. Larry Flowers, who repairs and installs windows, discovered that to clear off his Ford Expedition he had to stand in a river of sludgy melted snow.

"It's sloppy," he said of East 162nd Street in the Bronx, near Teller Avenue, where his sport utility vehicle was parked. The city, which suspended alternate-side parking regulations yesterday and today, said the rules would be reinstated tomorrow. But parking meters will be in operation today.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hey, Riot Over This!

You gotta love the 1st amendment. I think it's a great cartoon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The terrorists' intended target in the 2002 plot was the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles

Bush Offers Details of 2002 Plot in Defense of Terror Strategy

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — President Bush defended his anti-terrorist policies anew today, asserting that the United States and its allies had foiled a terrorist plot meant to bring down a Los Angeles building that is the tallest in the United States west of the Mississippi River.

Mr. Bush said that just a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, terrorists planned to hijack another airplane by using "shoe bombs" to breach the cockpit door. Their target, had the hijacking been carried out, would have been the U.S. Bank Tower, the president said. (Government counterterrorism officials have acknowledged before that the tower would be a particularly inviting target.)

Osama bin Laden himself was involved in the plot, which was to be carried out by Southeast Asian men on the assumption that they would not arouse as much suspicion as Middle Easterners, Mr. Bush told the National Guard Association here. "Their plot was derailed in early 2002, when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key Al Qaeda operative," he said. "Subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target and how Al Qaeda hoped to execute it."

Now, you must wonder. Had we elected Gore, would his post 911 policies have had the same outcome?

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