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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Briefly

May 23, 2004

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Boston

Kerry urges new energy plan

With the start of the summer driving season approaching and gasoline prices soaring, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Saturday the United States should strive for energy independence.

"There are two reasons why we cannot be asleep at the wheel during this current energy crisis," Kerry said in the weekly Democratic radio address. "First, soaring energy prices are putting our economy at risk and second, our dependence on Middle East oil is putting our national security at risk. But it doesn't have to be this way."

Separately, Kerry's campaign objected Saturday to a suggestion during a radio interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell that Kerry has blamed oil for the war in Iraq. Kerry has said repeatedly he does not believe the Bush administration started the war to control Iraq's oil.

Iraq

Released detainees detail abuse at hands of U.S. troops

U.S. soldiers forced female detainees at Abu Ghraib to serve male prisoners meals after the men had been stripped bare and beaten, according to new accounts of psychological abuse described by those freed from the notorious prison.

One man, who identified himself only as Ghazwan, was among 454 detainees released Friday from the American-run prison at the center of an abuse scandal.

"They were psychologically torturing us, especially in the heavy quarantines. They were abusing us inside these quarantines by beating us and forcing us to take off all our clothes. They were forcing detained women to distribute food to us while we were naked," Ghazwan said.

Bangladesh

Dozens feared dead after ferry capsizes

A river ferry with about 250 passengers aboard capsized in eastern Bangladesh early today, police said, and dozens of people were feared dead.

About 50 people swam to shore and rescuers have found eight bodies so far, a police official said on condition of anonymity.

The double-decker ferry went down in the Meghna River about 40 miles east of the capital, Dhaka.

Ferry accidents are common in this South Asian nation, which is crisscrossed by rivers.

Iowa

Governor surveys tornado damage

Houses lay crumpled to their foundations, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power Saturday after storms tore through the Midwest, including a tornado that leveled Bradgate.

"Sixty seconds of horror and weeks and months of rehabilitation and rebuilding," said Gov. Tom Vilsack, who took a walking tour of Bradgate, population 100, in northwestern Iowa.

Fifteen people in Bradgate and nearby Rolfe were injured, though none seriously, in the Friday night tornado, said Humboldt County Emergency Management Director Doug Wood.

Storms also knocked out power through parts of West Virginia, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

San Antonio

SBC, union talk as strikes continue

Picketers filled the sidewalk in front of SBC Communications Inc.'s downtown headquarters Saturday.

Most were members of the Communications Workers of America, in day two of a four-day strike against SBC for health care and job security issues.

While CWA picketers marched around the country, negotiators for SBC and the union were back at the bargaining table Saturday to try to make headway on a new contract for 100,000 workers, including about 100 in the Lawrence area.

Since early Friday their jobs as operators, clerical workers, linemen and service representatives have been filled by 40,000 SBC managers, contractors and retirees.

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