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  |   July 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Pakistan reopens NATO supply routes

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- U.S. officials Tuesday welcomed Pakistan's decision to reopen NATO supply routes on its border with Afghanistan with no additional fees to use the routes.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the development after a telephone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the Defense Department said in a release.

Pakistan had shut down the supply routes last November after two dozen Pakistani soldiers were mistakenly killed by U.S forces in a border-area assault.

"I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November," Clinton said. "I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives.

"We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again."

Pakistan won't charge NATO additional fees to use the routes, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing. She said there are "regular commercial costs" associated with use of the supply routes. It wasn't clear how much extra it has cost the past several months to ship supplies via alternate routes.

"In reopening them, we will be back at that regular commercial level," Nuland said. "There will be no additional fees to Pakistani authorities"

Clinton called it "a tangible demonstration of Pakistan's support for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, and our shared objectives in the region."

"This is critically important to the men and women who are fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan," Clinton said.

"As I have made clear," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, "we remain committed to improving our partnership with Pakistan and to working closely together as our two nations confront common security challenges in the region."

Khar said only military supplies meant to equip the Afghan national security force will be allowed to pass through Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Clinton said she and Khar talked about wider issues of Afghan security, stability and reconciliation, and ongoing efforts to advance the two nations' shared interests, such as trade.


Poll: Voters see economy improving

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- Most Americans say economic conditions are poor but 60 percent say the economy will be in good shape next year, a poll released Tuesday indicated.

The CNN/ORC International poll, conducted Thursday through Sunday, found three-fourths of those surveyed said the economy is in poor shape -- an increase in the number who said that in May. The 60 percent who said the economy will be better in the next 12 months was a substantial increase from the 39 percent who said the same thing in October.

"Americans are usually optimists, but in 2011, polls for the first time found that more than half the country thought that economic conditions would worsen in the next 12 months," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Now that trend has reversed itself, with only four in 10 saying that the economy will be in poor shape a year from now."

Keating said the economy is the top issue for voters heading into the 2012 election, followed by healthcare, the deficit, education, unemployment and terrorism.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters said they thought President Barack Obama could do a better job than presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney of handling the economy, while 47 percent said Romney would do better -- and Romney was preferred by 52 percent of independents in the issue. Obama had an edge among lower-income voters, women and younger voters, while Romney led the president among men and higher-income and older voters.

Those polled gave an edge to Romney on dealing with the federal deficit, while Obama had the edge on foreign policy and healthcare.

ORC International conducted the poll by telephone for CNN, with a survey sample of 1,517 adults -- including 1,390 registered voters. The overall sampling error is 2.5 percentage points.


Recount sought in Mexico prez election

MEXICO CITY, July 3 (UPI) -- Leftist Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he is seeking a recount of Sunday's election.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution candidate said he asked Mexico's Federal Election Institute for the recount after the initial tabulation gave the victory to Enrique Pena Nieto, CNN reported.

Lopez Obrador, who appeared to be the runner-up, had said Monday the vote was "plagued by irregularities." He made similar claims after narrowly lost to Felipe Calderon in 2006.

The Federal Election Institute is to begin verifying individual poll results Wednesday.

Pena Nieto has said it is time to move forward and told CNN en Espanol he wanted to encourage a bipartisan approach to governing.

"We have to be constructive and put aside our differences, which are only for competitions and electoral contests," Pena Nieto said Monday.


D.A.: No prosecution for John Bryson

LOS ANGELES, July 3 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson tested positive for Ambien, but will not be prosecuted following two traffic collisions, Los Angeles prosecutors say.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Bryson will not be prosecuted for the alleged hit-and-run crashes in June because of insufficient evidence, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. Tests did not show alcohol or controlled substances in his blood but he did test positive for Ambien, a sleep aid, prosecutors said in a memo outlining their decision not to file criminal charges against him.

Bryson was found unconscious in his Lexus in Southern California June 9 after striking two vehicles. He suffered a seizure at the time of the crashes and resigned from office shortly after taking medical leave June 11.

The district attorney's office memo indicated there were "low end of therapeutic levels" of Ambien in Bryson's system and a criminalist was unable to determine whether the drug was a factor in the collisions. Two doctors who treated Bryson said the crashes resulted from confusion following a seizure, the Times reported.

"Based on doctors' opinions there is insufficient evidence to show knowing failure to provide personal information for hit and run," the memo said.

The memo also concluded there was "insufficient evidence to prove driving under the influence."

Before being appointed to the Obama administration Cabinet, Bryson had served as chairman, chief executive officer and president of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and as a director of The Boeing Co.


JetBlue pilot innocent but insane

AMARILLO, Texas, July 3 (UPI) -- A JetBlue pilot whose erratic behavior led to an emergency landing at the airport in Amarillo, Texas, was found not guilty by reason of insanity Tuesday.

Clayton Osbon will be transported to a federal mental health facility in Fort Worth for further examination, KVII-TV, Amarillo, reported. He will have another court hearing in August.

A doctor said Osbon had a severe mental disease or defect that impaired his ability to "appreciate the nature, quality or wrongfulness of his behavior at the time of the offense," the Findings of Fact and Verdict stated.

Osbon was the captain on a JetBlue flight en route from New York to Las Vegas March 27 when his behavior led to the aircraft being diverted to Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

Osbon yelled about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, ran down the aisle of the plane's cabin and pounded on the cockpit door, court records showed.

None of the 141 passengers and crew members was seriously hurt.

A federal grand jury indicted Osbon in April on charges of interference of a flight crew.

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