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Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Briefly

August 22, 2004

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Washington. D.C.

Candidate, party spending in election tops $1 billion

There's still more than two months to go before Election Day, and despite new campaign finance laws money is being spent at a dizzying pace.

The spending tops mid-election year levels in 2002 and 2000, when national party committees could still raise corporate, union and unlimited donations known as soft money.

The presidential and congressional candidates and the national party committees that support them have already laid out more than $1 billion for the 2004 election cycle.

President Bush alone devoted $209 million to his re-election effort through July, a campaign finance report he filed Friday shows.

His Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, reported to the Federal Election Commission that he spent $36.4 million in July, on top of nearly $150 million through June.

Cuba

U.S. military decides 10 prisoners won't be released

U.S. military review panels have decided not to release 10 Guantanamo Bay detainees, concluding they were properly classified as "enemy combatants," a military official said Saturday.

The decision brought to 14 the number of cases decided by the panels, said Navy Cmdr. Katy Wright, a spokeswoman at the Pentagon. The panels decided to hold all 14.

The military so far has reviewed the cases of 31 detainees, including that of a 30-year-old prisoner on Saturday who allegedly served as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. All 585 Guantanamo detainees are accused of links to al-Qaida or Afghanistan's former Taliban regime.

The military would not release details of the concluded cases, including when the detainees went before the review panels, their names, nationalities or the circumstances surrounding their capture.

Florida

Family holds funeral for hostage who was beheaded

Family and friends of an American contractor kidnapped and beheaded in Saudi Arabia gathered for a funeral Saturday, more than two months after the engineer disappeared.

About 100 people attended services for Paul M. Johnson Jr., who once lived in Florida and had worked in Saudi Arabia for Lockheed Martin for more than a decade.

Johnson was kidnapped June 12 by militants in Riyadh who demanded the release of al-Qaida prisoners in exchange for the 49-year-old's life. Photographs and a video of the beheading were later posted on the Internet.

Hours later, Saudi security forces shot and killed Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, alleged mastermind of Johnson's kidnapping and murder.

Not all of Johnson's remains were recovered, but the family thought it was time for a funeral. "This is not a full closure, but it is some closure," said Johnson's son, Paul M. Johnson III.

Johnson's remains will be cremated and sent to Thailand. His widow is a native of Thailand, and the couple had planned to move there after Johnson's contract expired.

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