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Italian tenor Pavarotti dies at age 71
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer
49 minutes ago
|ROME – Luciano Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C’s and ebullient showmanship made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar, died Thursday. He was 71.
His manager, Terri Robson, told the AP in an e-mailed statement that Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5 a.m. local time. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.
“The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness,” the statement said.
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Republican Candidates Make Thompson a Target
By MICHAEL LUO and MICHAEL COOPER, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007
|DURHAM, N.H., Sept. 5 – The Republican presidential candidates clashed Wednesday night in their most contentious debate of the campaign, in pointed exchanges over immigration, the war in Iraq and who among them is the best prepared to be commander in chief.
It was a far cry from the previous debates, when the Republicans saved most of their fire for Democrats. Mitt Romney directly criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has consistently led in national polls, for the first time at a debate. And most candidates got in digs at Fred D. Thompson, the former senator and actor who skipped the debate to announce his candidacy on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
The toughest sparring was over illegal immigration, an issue that has roiled Republican voters this year. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, accused Mr. Giuliani of attracting illegal immigrants when he was the mayor of New York.
Senate Family Welcomes Cousin Tim . . . Not So Much Uncle Larry
By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A02
Johnson’s return was the feel-good story of the summer: Feuding political factions unite to celebrate earnest lawmaker’s against-the-odds triumph over illness. “My speech is not 100 percent,” the senator said with a still-slurred voice, “but my thoughts are clear, and my mind is sharp.” Standing in front of the motorized wheelchair that carried him into the chamber, he brought tears to the eyes of Democrats, Republicans and even reporters in the gallery when he said: “Today, I come home to the United States Senate.”
Craig’s tale, by contrast, played out like a horror film: Villain’s bloodied corpse improbably comes back to life, and weary protagonists must kill him — again. Craig, only four days after announcing his resignation after his arrest in a sex sting in an airport men’s room, called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to revise and extend his resignation remarks.
“I heard from Senator Craig this morning,” McConnell announced in a tone that indicated he did not enjoy the conversation. While Craig now wants “to try to finish his term,” McConnell added coolly: “I thought he made the correct decision — the difficult but correct decision — to resign.”
Secretary of Education Criticizes Proposal
By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007
|WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 – Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on Wednesday criticized a Congressional proposal to soften provisions of President’s Bush signature education law, saying it would severely weaken the federal effort to raise achievement among poor and minority children.
In a speech before a business group and at a news conference, Ms. Spellings said that a series of proposals in draft legislation circulated by Democrats and Republicans on the House education committee, taken together, would allow states to remove children from testing regimes and tutoring services, and would make it too difficult for parents to know whether students and schools are making progress.
“It’s just too darn confusing,” Ms. Spellings said of the draft bill. “To make it more complex, less transparent, more obfuscated I think would be a huge mistake, particularly when we’re on the run, we’re on the move.”
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German Police Arrest 3 in Terrorist Plot
By MARK LANDLER, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007
|This article was reported by Mark Landler, Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet, and written by Mr. Landler.
FRANKFURT, Sept. 5 – German authorities said Wednesday that they had stopped a major terrorist attack against American and German targets in this country, arresting three Islamic militants and seizing a large amount of potentially explosive chemicals and military-grade detonators.
Those arrested – two German citizens who had converted to Islam and a Turkish resident of Germany – were in the advanced stages of plotting bomb attacks that could have been deadlier than those that killed dozens in London and Madrid, the police and security officials said. At least five lesser figures are still being pursued, they said.
“They were planning massive attacks,” the German federal prosecutor, Monika Harms, said at a news conference, outlining an intensive six-month investigation. She said the suspects had amassed hydrogen peroxide, the main chemical in the explosives used in the London suicide bombings of July 2005.
Guilty of murder, the author who based novel on his crime
By Peter Pophamin Rome, The Independent
Published: 06 September 2007
|A Polish author, travel writer and intellectual whose best-selling novel described a grisly murder has been jailed for 25 years for committing the crime he had so vividly portrayed. The killing of Dariusz Janiszewski in 2000 was notably gruesome. The victim – a successful, popular professional – was humiliated, starved and tortured, before having his hands bound with a rope that was looped around his neck in a noose.
When fishermen scooped the body out of the river Oder, it was stripped to shirt and underpants and the limbs had been distended and bore marks of torture. The police had no leads and after six months the search for a culprit was abandoned.
But the murderer could not resist gloating over his cleverness. During the investigation, anonymous emails were sent from South Korea and Indonesia to Polish television’s equivalent of Crimewatch, describing the killing as “the perfect crime”.
8 U.S. soldiers slain in Iraq over 2 days
Six of the troops are killed in Baghdad, the other two in Salahuddin province. A bomb near a bus stop in the capital leaves 13 Iraqis dead.
From a Times Staff Writer, The Los Angeles Times
September 6, 2007
|BAGHDAD — — Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in attacks over two days, military authorities reported Wednesday, and 13 Iraqis died when a bomb exploded near a bus stop during the morning rush hour.
Two soldiers working to capture militants in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad were killed Wednesday, U.S. military officials said. Two others were killed the same day by an explosion while on patrol in Salahuddin province.
A total of 3,752 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq theater since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to the website icasualties.org.
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U.S. Marines ponder if “shoot first” justified
By Adam Tanner, Reuters
1 hour, 48 minutes ago
|CAMP PENDLETON, California (Reuters) – Does a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq have the right to shoot first and ask questions later if hostile forces could be nearby?
The question is at the heart of the case against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, the U.S. Marine accused of leading a November 19, 2005, massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
Witnesses who were on patrol with Wuterich in Iraq have testified that he told them to “shoot first and ask questions later” as they followed up the killing of a popular Marine in their unit.
Myanmar monks take 20 security forces hostage
11 minutes ago
|YANGON (AFP) – Hundreds of Buddhist monks have taken about 20 members of Myanmar’s security forces hostage inside their monastery, one day after clashes broke out at an anti-junta protest, residents told AFP Thursday.
The security forces came to the monastery to apologise for the violence Wednesday in the central town of Pakokku, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of the country’s commercial capital Yangon, residents said by telephone.
At least three monks were injured after security forces fired shots into the air and used bamboo sticks to disperse a crowd of 300 monks who were protesting against a massive hike in fuel prices, they said.
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DHS ends criticized data-mining program
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 9:26 PM ET
|WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department scrapped an ambitious anti-terrorism data-mining tool after investigators found it was tested with information about real people without required privacy safeguards.
The department has spent $42 million since 2003 developing the software tool known as ADVISE, the Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement program, at the Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. It was intended for wide use by DHS components, including immigration, customs, border protection, biological defense and its intelligence office.
Pilot tests of the program were quietly suspended in March after Congress’ Government Accountability Office warned that “the ADVISE tool could misidentify or erroneously associate an individual with undesirable activity such as fraud, crime or terrorism.”
White House sued again over e-mail
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 6:57 PM ET
|WASHINGTON – The White House abandoned an automatic archiving system for its e-mail in 2002 and did not replace it, says a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Executive Office of the President.
The suit by the National Security Archive, a private group, is the latest effort to find out whether the Bush administration lost millions of electronic messages.
White House e-mail problems first came to light during a special prosecutor’s investigation into the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and again during congressional inquiries into the role of presidential aides in firings of U.S. attorneys.
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Felix toll rises, Henriette hits Mexico
By ARIEL LEON, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 3 minutes ago
|PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua – Doctors treated storm casualties in a makeshift clinic Wednesday after powerful Hurricane Felix flooded their hospital and wrecked villages on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. The death toll rose to at least 18 with dozens more missing.
Far to the northwest, Hurricane Henriette plowed into Mexico for the second time in two days, making landfall shortly before 9 p.m. EDT near the port city of Guaymas with top sustained winds of 75 mph. Seven deaths were reported from the Pacific storm, which hit Baja California on Tuesday.
Felix came ashore Tuesday in Nicaragua as a Category 5 tempest packing 160 mph winds and heavy rains that caused mudslides, destroyed homes, uprooted trees and devastated villages.
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Basra pullout will test Iraqi forces
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer
28 minutes ago
|BAGHDAD – The aftermath of this week’s British pullout from Basra will demonstrate whether Iraq’s nascent security forces have what it takes to keep the peace in a major city where Shiite militias and gangs have held sway.
If the Iraqis can keep rival Shiite militias at bay in the country’s second-largest city, that would significantly boost the confidence of the Bush administration in Iraqi capability.
But failure would raise serious questions about Iraq’s army and police as President Bush and leading Democrats prepare for a showdown over the future of the U.S. mission during congressional hearings next week.
Sixteen Saudis return from Guantanamo Bay prison
1 hour, 23 minutes ago
|RIYADH (Reuters) – Sixteen Saudis returned home on Thursday after the United States released them from a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay where foreign terrorism suspects are held.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz “expressed his relief and appreciation for the cooperation shown by the authorities in the United States, hoping this leads to the return of the remaining Saudis.”
Saudi public anger over the treatment of Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay has been high in the Muslim kingdom, a key U.S. ally. Two Saudis were among three prisoners who hanged themselves at the naval base in June.
US air strike in Baghdad kills 14 sleeping civilians
by Ahmed al-Rubaye, AFP
5 minutes ago
|BAGHDAD (AFP) – US air strikes on a Baghdad neighbourhood before dawn on Thursday killed 14 civilians while they were sleeping and destroyed several houses, angry residents and Iraqi officials said.
Defence and interior ministry officials said US helicopters fired on houses in the Al-Washash neighbourhood of Mansour district in west Baghdad between 2.00 am and 3.00 am while in pursuit of insurgents.
“The attacks on the houses took place while people were sleeping. There were no clashes. The area had been quiet,” said an interior ministry official who did not want to be named.
Israel Weighs a War in Gaza
By TIM MCGIRK/JERUSALEM, Time Magazine
1 hour, 53 minutes ago
|As children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot toddled back to class after summer vacation on Monday, a Palestinian rocket exploded near a gaily painted kindergarten. None of the kids were hurt by the blast, but as one mother who rushed to the kindergarten says, “I found all the children terrified and in tears.” They were treated for shock.
A Gunboat Message to China
By SIMON ROBINSON/DELHI, Time Magazine
1 hour, 55 minutes ago
|The six-day-long exercise currently underway in the Bay of Bengal is one of the biggest war games the world will see this year. But not all its participants want that fact broadcast. The exercise, dubbed Malabar 07-02, involves warships from the U.S., Australia, India, Japan and Singapore – more than two dozen, in all, including two U.S. aircraft carrier and India’s sole carrier, and a nuclear-powered submarine. Participants are keen to stress that the exercise will focus on anti-piracy drills and rescue missions and in no way threatens a certain growing Asian power to the north. “There is no military alignment,” India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony said recently. “It’s only an exercise.”
But Beijing won’t see it that way….
Iraqi Progress: The View from Baghdad
By CHARLES CRAIN/GHAZALIYAH, BAGHDAD, Time Magazine
Wed Sep 5, 11:20 AM ET
|President Bush made a politically astute choice by flying into al Asad Airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province for Monday’s surprise trip. His stopover allowed him to highlight the striking success the U.S. has had in Anbar this year turning Sunni groups against al-Qaeda in Iraq. But his decision to avoid Baghdad is telling: it is in the Iraqi capital, not Anbar, where America’s warming relationship with the Sunnis is running up against Iraq’s complicated and often savage sectarian conflict.
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Megachurch leader D. James Kennedy dies
By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 9:42 PM ET
|MIAMI – The Rev. D. James Kennedy, a pioneering Christian broadcaster and megachurch pastor whose fiercely conservative worldview helped fuel the rise of the religious right in American politics, died Wednesday. He was 76.
Kennedy died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, said Kristin Cole, a spokeswoman for Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. The cause of death has not been determined, but Kennedy had not been seen publicly he suffered cardiac arrest Dec. 28. His retirement was announced last month.
Kennedy’s voice and face were known to millions through radio and television broadcasts, urging Christians to evangelize in their daily lives, while condemning homosexuality and abortion as assaults on the traditional family. His also preached on the major policy issues of the day, rejecting evolution and global warming.
Study finds U.S. Jews distance selves from Israel
By Michael Conlon, Religion Writer, Reuters
Thu Sep 6, 1:12 AM ET
|CHICAGO (Reuters) – Young U.S. non-Orthodox Jews are becoming increasingly lukewarm if not alienated in their support for Israel in a trend that is not likely to be reversed, according to a study released on Thursday.
Blending into U.S. society, including marriage to non-Jews and a tendency to look on Judaism more in religious terms than ethnic ones, is part of what’s happening, the study found.
“For our parent’s generation, the question that mattered was, how do we regard Israel? For Generation Y (born after 1976) the question is indeed, why should we regard Israel?” said Roger Bennett, a vice president of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, which sponsored the study.
Texas executes man for murder, rape
1 hour, 50 minutes ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – A convicted murderer apologized for his crime and asked the victim’s family for forgiveness just before he was executed by Texas authorities on Wednesday.
“I just pray that some day you will find forgiveness in our heart. Know that your loved one is in a good place,” said Tony Roach, addressing his last words to the family of the woman he murdered and raped nine years ago, Ronnie Hewitt.
“I am sorry for what I have done,” Roach said, according to a transcript of his last statement released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Moment Of Truth in Iraq
By MICHAEL DUFFY, Time Magazine
19 minutes ago
|It is a measure of how vaporous the ground truths in Iraq have become that George W. Bush had to sneak into the country he conquered. Extra security was needed to proclaim that Iraq was more secure, the surge was working and the country was worth more American blood and treasure. Before the surprise trip on Sept. 3, a TIME correspondent was summoned to a Starbucks in downtown Washington, where he was informed of the Iraq mission – and then prohibited from telling anyone other than his spouse and his boss. At dusk on Sunday, Sept. 2, passengers boarded Air Force One inside its massive hangar at Andrews Air Force Base. Once darkness fell, the hangar doors opened, and the plane pushed out onto the runway for takeoff, its lights off and its window shades drawn. Laptops were returned in midflight, but their owners had to disable the wireless functions to prevent the President’s plane from being tracked across the globe. Twelve hours later, Air Force One touched down, and Bush stepped out onto the tarmac of another well-secured U.S. air base for an eight-hour visit to Anbar province.
Much of what happens in Iraq is bewildering and contradictory. A surge in U.S. troops has helped secure the capital – but seems to have pushed the violence elsewhere. Casualties among U.S. troops were down slightly in July and August but are surpassing last year’s levels. An avalanche of new progress reports is interpreted by both proponents and opponents of U.S. policy as validation of their positions. Even the President’s comments about troop levels can be confounding: Bush made the trip in part to pressure a reluctant Congress to permit his 30,000-troop surge, announced in January, to continue a while longer. And yet it was Bush who, during his brief visit to Anbar, hinted openly that troop withdrawals might begin soon. He told reporters that General David Petraeus informed him that “if the security situation continues to improve the way it has, we may be able to achieve the same objectives with fewer troops.”
Americans sense intuitively that Iraq has a way of reducing what was once solid and certain into sand. Lawmakers from both parties expected September to be a month of reckoning for the President’s Iraq policy – a stop-or-go moment when the U.S. would decide whether to continue the surge or begin an inevitable pullback. But even before Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker utter a word to Congress, that debate looks almost moot. Bush appears ready to continue the surge for another six months or so, and the Democrats lack the votes to check him. So what will unfold instead in Washington this month is not a debate about the surge but the beginning of a debate about what comes after: How long will the U.S. be in Iraq? (Probably a decade, possibly more.) How many troops will be needed? (Probably 130,000 to start, hopefully less.) What will the mission be after the surge? (Get in line – it’s anyone’s guess.) Will the Iraqis get their act together? (Not soon, as things stand now.)
Thompson Enters, Stage Right
By JAMES CARNEY / WASHINGTON, Time Magazine
21 minutes ago
|Tonight, as every other G.O.P. candidate for President appears on a stage in Manchester, N.H., for a debate on Fox News, Fred Dalton Thompson – actor, ex-Senator and irrepressible political flirt – will be 3,000 miles away, sitting next to Jay Leno and finally announcing his commitment to audition for the role of a lifetime: commander in chief.
That Thompson would choose a Hollywood venue to declare his candidacy makes sense. After all, to the extent that voters recognize Thompson, 65, it’s as Arthur Branch, the gruff-but-charming District Attorney in the long-running NBC series Law & Order. Or as Joshua Painter, the gruff-but-charming rear admiral in The Hunt for Red October. (Dramatic range is not his calling card.)
Political junkies know that Thompson was a twice-elected Senator from Tennessee; that he served as G.O.P. counsel during the Watergate hearings in 1973; and that he had a successful career as a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington for years in between. But rather than present himself as just another politician running for President, Thompson will try to turn his fame into a bankable asset. Hence the decision not just to skip the New Hampshire debate in favor of The Tonight Show, but to take the audacious step of airing a campaign ad on Fox News during the debate he will have so conspicuously skipped. “There is no question that Senator Thompson’s celebrity affords us some communications opportunities that aren’t necessarily available to every candidate,” says Todd Harris, the nascent Thompson campaign’s communications director. “We intend to exploit those.”