News briefs for Aug. 26

Published 11:07 pm Monday, August 25, 2008

Ailing Kennedy to appear, may speak at Dem convention

DENVER — Democrats opened their national convention on Monday, seeking peace in the family as they pursue victory in the fall for Barack Obama and his historic quest for the White House.

An appearance by the ailing, aging Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and a primetime speech by Obama’s wife, Michelle, headlined the convention’s first night.

Iraq’s al-Maliki demands ‘specific deadline’ for all US troops to leave

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday no security agreement with the United States could be reached unless it included a “specific deadline” for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.

Last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials said the two sides had agreed tentatively to a schedule which included a broad pullout of combat forces by the end of 2011 with a residual U.S. force remaining behind to continue training and advising the Iraqi security forces.

But al-Maliki’s remarks Monday suggested that the Iraqi government is still not satisfied with that arrangement. An aide to the prime minister said Monday that Iraq remained adamant that the last American soldier must leave Iraq by the end of 2011 — regardless of conditions at the time.

Fragile ruling coalition in Pakistan collapses

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The ruling coalition that just a week ago drove U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf from the presidency broke apart Monday, throwing Pakistan into political turmoil just as it faces an increasingly difficult fight against Islamic militants.

The collapse of the fragile alliance threw more power to Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of assassinated ex-leader Benazir Bhutto and a corruption-tainted former polo player who now becomes the front-runner to replace Musharraf.

Russia flirts with recognition of separatists

TBILISI, Georgia — Russian lawmakers on Monday urged the Kremlin to recognize the independence of two separatist Georgian regions, heightening tensions with Georgia where the government said hundreds of Russian soldiers remained at checkpoints.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev did not immediately respond to the unanimous votes in both houses of Russia’s parliament, but he has said Moscow would support whatever choice the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia make about their future status.

Western countries warned Moscow that recognizing the breakaway regions of Georgia, an allied nation pressing for NATO membership, would prompt international denunciation. The U.S. said Russian recognition “would be unacceptable.”

Government proposing ship speed limit

WASHINGTON — The government on Monday recommended a speed limit for commercial ships along the Atlantic coast, where collisions with the endangered right whale threaten its existence.

About 300-400 of the whales are left in the wild, and they migrate annually between their southeastern Atlantic breeding grounds to feeding areas off the Massachusetts coast, intersecting busy shipping lanes.

LA deputy pulls gun on Diddy’s entourage, but hip-hop mogul says he was never a target

LOS ANGELES — A sheriff’s deputy pulled a gun on members of Diddy’s entourage during a routine traffic stop over the weekend, but the situation was quickly resolved and a spokesman for the entertainer said the deputy was professional and respectful.

The gun was never pointed at the hip-hop mogul, and deputies were “very respectful” during the stop early Saturday, spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Monday.

Talk about animal magnetism, cows seem to orient themselves with planet’s magnetic field

WASHINGTON — Talk about animal magnetism, cows seem to have a built-in compass.

No bull: Somehow, cattle seem to know how to find north and south, say researchers who studied satellite photos of thousands of cows around the world. Most cattle that were grazing or resting tended to align their bodies in a north-south direction, a team of German and Czech researchers reports in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

– The Associated Press