- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 21, 2009

CUBA

Couple confess in espionage case

A retired State Department worker and his wife, accused of a three-decade-long plot to spy for the Castro regime in Cuba, have pleaded guilty in federal court.

Walter Kendall Myers and wife, Gwendolyn - both in their 70s - were caught in an undercover FBI sting operation, arrested in June and have been held without bail. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton accepted their pleas Friday afternoon.

Walter Myers pleaded guilty to plotting to commit espionage and to wire fraud and agreed to serve a life sentence.

His wife pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of plotting to gather and transmit national defense information and agreed to serve up to 7 1/2 years in prison. Both agreed to cooperate fully with investigators.

AFGHANISTAN

White House: War decision after holiday

President Obama’s announcement of a new strategy on Afghanistan will not take place until after the Thanksgiving holiday next week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Mr. Obama is considering whether to add thousands more U.S. troops to the war effort. He said during a just-concluded trip to Asia that he would like to end the U.S. involvement in the conflict during his presidency.

Aides have said repeatedly that Mr. Obama is weeks away from a decision. Mr. Gibbs confirmed by e-mail that no announcement was expected before the Thursday Thanksgiving holiday.

BLACKWATER

One case dropped in Iraqi shooting

Justice Department prosecutors asked a federal judge Friday to dismiss the charges against one of five Blackwater security guards accused of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad.

Prosecutors said they filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., but also requested the ability to refile the charges later.

Mr. Slatten was one of five men charged in December last year with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempt to commit manslaughter and one weapons violation count over the shooting that outraged Iraqis and strained relations between the two countries.

The shooting occurred as the private security firm’s guards escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats through Baghdad on Sept. 16, 2007. Blackwater is now known as Xe Services.

NEW YORK

Giuliani leaning toward Senate run

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, encouraged by many Republicans to run for governor in 2010, is instead leaning toward a run for the Senate against incumbent Democrat Kirsten E. Gillibrand, according to two party advisers.

“From staff, we have been hearing that he has been indicating quietly and privately recently that governor might not be the best fit for him now,” one adviser said. “But the U.S. Senate could be a perfect fit for him.”

The advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak for the state Republican Party or Mr. Giuliani.

The New York Times, citing unidentified people told of the decision, reported Thursday that Mr. Giuliani, 65, wouldn’t run for governor after months of considering a bid.

Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella disputed that report, saying the former mayor told her Thursday that he hadn’t made a decision.

AIRPORT SECURITY

Speedy screening eyed at airports

The Homeland Security Department wants to expand expedited screening of pre-approved, low-risk air travelers arriving in the United States.

The goal is to bring the “Global Entry” program to most international airports in the country.

For more than a year, the department has been testing the program at seven airports across the country. The effort cuts the average waiting time for participants from 10 minutes to three.

The Global Entry program would be open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents at least 14 years old. They would have to pay a $100 fee and undergo a background check.

Eventually, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency plans to expand the program to include foreign travelers whose countries have an acceptable pre-screening process.

NEW YORK

Hoffman considers recount in race

Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman said on Friday he is considering filing a recount claim in light of computer irregularities that have been reported. He has until Monday to make that decision.

Mr. Hoffman conceded New York’s 23rd Congressional District race to Democrat Bill Owens on Election Night, but has had second thoughts. Mr. Owens was subsequently sworn into the seat.

Three voting computers were shown to have had a virus and had to be reprogrammed, Mr. Hoffman told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show.

“If I had this information on Election Night, I would not have conceded,” he said.

CANCER

Study sees risk for funeral workers

Morticians who use formaldehyde to embalm bodies have a higher risk of leukemia, researchers reported Friday.

They found deaths from one particular kind of leukemia, myeloid leukemia, increased the longer the workers were involved with embalming.

Their study of more than 400 funeral workers is the first to look carefully at the association, they reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


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