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N. Korea Agrees to Arms Talk

Arms talks between the U.S., North Korea and other countries near the Korean peninsula may begin as soon as September in Beijing.

North Korea is expected to put forward a proposal to end the nuclear standoff.

North Korea yesterday announced that it had dropped its demand for one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. Instead six-way talks will take place between the North and South Korea, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

Puerto Rico Jury Acquits Two Facing Death Penalty

A Puerto Rican jury has acquitted two men accused of murder in one of the island’s most controversial cases ever. The two men would have faced the death penalty if they had been convicted even though the island’s constitution bars execution.

The Ashcroft-led Justice Department overrode Puerto Rico’s constitution so federal prosecutors could seek the death penalty if the men were found guilty.

Defense Spending Increases at Fastest Rate in 50 Years

Defense spending in the United States increased at the fastest rate in the past 50 years during the three-month period following the start of the Iraq invasion. The Wall Street Journal reports this increase — the largest since the Korean War — was the main reason the nation’s gross domestic product jumped a robust 2.4 percent last quarter. The Pentagon is spending about $4 billion per month on the Iraq occupation not including the costs of reconstructing the country.

Halliburton’s Profits Up 11%

The Financial Times reports that the oil services giant Halliburton’s revenue jumped 11 percent last quarter largely due to its work in Iraq. Halliburton is the company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. He still receives a check from them.

2 More U.S. Soldiers Killed

In Iraq, two more U.S. soldiers died in attacks on Thursday.

Japanese Reporter in Iraq Says U.S. Troops Beat & Detained Him

A Japanese journalist is reporting U.S. soldiers assaulted and detained him after he took photographs of U.S. raids of homes in Baghdad that resulted in the death of Iraqi civilians. This according to the Japan Times. The reporter 47-year-old Kazutaka Sato was allegedly beaten, thrown to the ground by U.S. troops, had his hands tied and was detained for an hour.

The reporter said the U.S. soldiers may have been trying to hide the bodies of civilians killed in the operation.

Bush Plans To Delay Updates on Hunt for WMD

The Washington Times reports the Bush administration is taking a new approach in dealing with critics of the invasion of Iraq. Pentagon insiders are calling it a "big impact" plan.

According to the Washington Times, the Pentagon plans to stop releasing information piecemeal about the failed hunt for weapons of mass destruction and wait for an extended period of time — maybe six months — to release a broader report.

David Kay, the special adviser to CIA Director George J. Tenet on Iraq’s weapons recently told NBC, "I think in six months from now, we’ll have a considerable amount of evidence, and we’ll be starting to reveal that evidence."

4 Teens Arrested for Hate Crimes in Long Island Firebombing Case

This news from Long Island: four teenagers have been arrested and charged with a hate crime for firebombing the home of a family of Mexican day laborers.

The local district attorney said there was no question that they "targeted this particular house because there were Mexicans living there."

The teens are believed to have thrown live fireworks into the home just hours after much of the nation celebrated the Fourth of July. No one was injured in the blaze which gutted the house.

One of the teens legal guardians told Newsday the boys were being treated unfairly. She said, "They are making an example of them because they don’t know what to do with all those Mexicans over there. It was absolutely wrong, what they did, but it was the Fourth of July and it was a firework. It wasn’t a Molotov cocktail or a firebomb.

Day laborers in the Long Island community of Farmingville have been targeted before. Two years ago, two day-laborers were severely beaten.

Will Bush Plan End Amtrak?

The Pittsburg Post Gazette reports the national passenger train system Amtrak may largely cease to exist if Congress approves a new plan by the Bush administration to shift operating expenses of Amtrak from the federal government to individual states.

Foreign Visits to U.S. Drop Sharply

The number of foreigners visiting the United States for education or medical reasons has dropped considerably over the past two years. This according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor.

The numbers are expected to fall even more as the U.S. implements a new visa regulation that goes into effect today. From now on each of the roughly 8 million people who apply for visas annually must be interviewed in person at a U.S. embassy even if the nearest embassy is hundreds or thousands of miles away from where they live.

The Monitor reports foreign attendance at US English-language summer classes is down about 30 percent. The world-famous Mayo Clinic has seen the number of international patients drop almost by a quarter since 2001. Visa applications have dropped by about 2 million since 2001.

Taylor Prepares to Leave Liberia as African Troops Arrive

This news from Liberia: Talks have begun between West African foreign ministers and Liberian President Charles Taylor over his plans to resign and go into exile.

This comes as an advanced team of West African peacekeeping troops arrived in Monrovia. The full Ecowas force of 1,500 is to arrive by Monday and Taylor is expected to leave three days later.

Israeli Parliament Passes Anti-Palestinian Marriage Bill

The Israeli parliament voted yesterday to stop allowing Palestinians from becoming Israeli citizens when they marry Arab-Israelis. Opposition and Arab MPs charged the measure was racist and discriminatory.

Israeli Troops Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets, Stun Grenades at “Apartheid Wall” Protesters

Some 300 Palestinians and 60 international activists protested the so-called "security wall" outside Tulkarem in the West Bank today. Activists took part in a direct action, cutting a section of wire in the fence before Israeli troops opened fire with rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas.


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