A cow slaughtered in Washington state earlier this month had tested positive for BSE, better known as mad cow disease, Agriculture Department officials announced yesterday. The discovery marks the first time the dreaded illness has been detected in the United States.
Meat from the infected animal traveled through three separate processing plants before a test revealed the problem 13 days later. Japan, the largest foreign customer for U.S. beef, announced a temporary halt to U.S. beef imports. South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Russia have also barred beef imports.
A jury yesterday rejected the death penalty for sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, sentencing him instead to life in prison without parole for a spree of random attacks that killed 10 people in the Washington D.C. area last year.
Defense lawyers argued that in deciding the sentence Malvo’s youth should be taken into account. He was just 17 at the time of the shootings. Prosecutor Robert Horan said Malvo, "is very lucky that he looks a lot younger than he is."
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Bush is the least "pardon-friendly" president on average of all time. So far in his term, Bush has pardoned only 11 people. He has also pardoned five Thanksgiving turkeys. At this point in their terms Bill Clinton had pardoned 56 people and George Bush Sr., 39.
An internal White House advisory board has determined that President Bush made a questionable claim when he talked up Saddam Hussein’s efforts to obtain nuclear materials in this year’s State of the Union address. This according to the Washington Post.
The Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board–chaired by former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft–found there was no "deliberate effort to fabricate" claims that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger. Yet the board found that the White House was so anxious to "grab onto something affirmative" about Iraq’s WMD program that it disregarded warnings that the claim was questionable.
This news from Iraq: A truck bomb blast has killed at least four people and injured 20 in the northern Kurdish city of Erbil. In Baghdad, U.S. helicopter gunships backed an artillery bombardment, as troops raided homes and arrested a Sunni sheik said to be close to former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe is reporting that the U.S. may not be able to reduce the number of troops in Iraq from 130,000 to 100,000 as planned next year. In a 16-page report obtained by the Globe the White House cited "the necessity of the full accomplishment of our goals [in Iraq.]"
Saudi Arabia has said it will not discuss any loan write-offs with Iraq’s U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. This according to Al-Jazeera. Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country would wait until Iraq had an independent government before looking into possibly reducing the debt. France, Germany and Russia have all recently agreed to forgive billions in Iraqi debt. The U.S. says it is still considering it.
The government is taking numerous security measures in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s so-called elevated terror-threat alert. Surface-to-air missiles are being deployed around Washington, state troopers are authorized to ride New York commuter trains, and Los Angeles International Airport is prohibiting curbside drop-offs or check-ins–requiring passengers to unload at the airport’s parking garages. And the Washington Post is reporting that a small number of foreign flight crews have been questioned in recent weeks after their names appeared to be similar to those on the FBI’s terror watch list. Officials declined to identify the air carriers involved.
In campaign news, Democratic presidential candidate senator John Kerry took out a 6.4 million dollars loan against his house in Boston in an effort to finance his campaign in the early presidential primaries.
In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency following the most powerful earthquake to hit the state in four years.
Former Illinois governor George Ryan pleaded not guilty yesterday to corruption charges and accused the federal government of conducting an investigation that tore his life apart. This past January, Ryan, dealt the sharpest blow to the death penalty in 30 years by granting clemency to 167 inmates on death row.
And comedian Lenny Bruce has been granted a posthumous pardon by the state of New York 40 years after he was convicted in an obscenity case. Bruce was charged after a performance in 1964 during which he was said to have used more than 100 obscene words.