Four nominees withdrawn
WASHINGTON -- In a concession to the Senate's Democratic majority, President Bush withdrew four controversial federal appeals court nominees Tuesday and submitted 33 picks for positions on the federal bench. The four Bush chose not to renominate were: William Haynes, William G. Myers III, Michael Wallace and Judge Terrence Boyle. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said only "consensus nominees" are likely to win confirmation under the new Democratic majority -- a declaration that effectively doomed the chances for the four men whose appointments were left in limbo when the Senate adjourned last year for the elections. "This reversal is one of the first tangible signs that the president heard and is heeding the message from November's election," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
Guilty to lesser charge
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- A 101st Airborne Division soldier who had been charged with murder in the deaths of three Iraqi detainees pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to nine months in military jail. Spc. Juston R. Graber, 21, is accused with three others from the division's 187th Infantry Regiment of killing detainees during a raid of a suspected al-Qaida stronghold near Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. They also were accused of trying to deceive investigators by saying the detainees were fleeing when they were shot. Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, Spc. William B. Hunsaker and Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard are awaiting courts-martial in the case.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman who pleaded innocent by reason of insanity after throwing her three children into San Francisco Bay was acquitted Tuesday of first-degree murder but convicted of assault. The jury continued deliberating the possibility of convicting LaShuan Harris, 24, of second-degree murder or manslaughter, but recessed at the end of the day without a decision. The assault charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Harris has been accused of killing 6-year-old Trayshawn Harris, 2-year-old Taronta Greely Jr. and 16-month-old Joshua Greely. She threw the boys into the chilly bay Oct. 19, 2005. One of the bodies was recovered, but the others were never found. Prosecutors have said they won't seek the death penalty.
Stamp honors Fitzgerald
WASHINGTON -- Ella Fitzgerald -- the first lady of song -- is being honored on a new postage stamp. The 39-cent stamp was released today at ceremonies at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and will be on sale across the country. It's the 30th stamp in the agency's Black Heritage series. "She would be very honored, very pleased and a little surprised," said Ray Brown Jr., Fitzgerald's son. "She didn't go through life expecting all the accolades that she got. She was just happy to do her thing and be the best that she could be." People who don't know about her will see the stamp and think: "What makes this person special? And perhaps find out about the person and about the music," he added.
Group threatens U.S.
CAIRO, Egypt -- The leader of Algeria's main Islamic insurgency movement threatened American and French supporters of the Algerian government in a video posted Tuesday on an Islamic Web site. France's foreign ministry said it took the threat seriously, adding that it was monitoring the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French acronym GSPC. The group recently announced it had established links to al-Qaida. In the video, Abu Musab Abdulwadood, the leader of the GSPC, accused the U.S. and France of "looting" Algeria with the help of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. "Just learn, Bouteflika, along with your aides, the generals and your crusader masters, that we are coming with all God's might," Abdulwadood said. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video message.
Russia digs in its heels
MOSCOW -- Russia dug in its heels Tuesday over a two-day-old pipeline transit dispute with Belarus that has interrupted Russian oil shipments to Germany and much of Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet republic, amid mounting European Union criticism of the disruption. The second Russian-related energy stoppage to affect the EU in 12 months has intensified European concerns about reliance on Russian oil and gas. But President Vladimir Putin's calculation appears to be that Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko will have to climb down in a matter of days when his country runs out of oil reserves, analysts said. Putin on Tuesday ordered his Cabinet to consider a possible reduction in oil output -- an indication the standoff could drag on. Russia has a limited capacity for refining oil and would have to cut crude output if its exports decrease suddenly.
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