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July 3, 2009 at 10:00 PM
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Palin stepping down as Alaska governor

WASILLA, Alaska, July 3 (UPI) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced Friday she will resign as governor by the end of July and will not seek a second term in 2010.

Palin, Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate last year, said Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell would be sworn in as the new governor July 25.

Speaking outside her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Palin said being a "lame-duck" governor would have been the "easiest path" as she approaches her final year in office.

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional 'lame-duck' status in this particular climate would just be another dose of 'politics as usual,' something I campaigned against and will always oppose," she said.

"People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing's more important to me than our beloved Alaska," Palin said. "It is my duty to always protect our great state."

She said she talked to her family and "determined that it is best to make a difference this summer, and I am willing to change things."

Some considered Palin a possible front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2012, and her resignation fueled speculation that she might be planning a run for the presidency.

Palin did not take questions at Friday's news conference. She said the new governor's administration would build on the accomplishments of hers.

"I look forward to helping others -- to fight for our state and our country and campaign for those who believe in smaller government, free enterprise, strong national security, support for our troops and energy independence," she said.

26 dead in Pakistani helicopter crash

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 3 (UPI) -- At least 26 members of the Pakistani armed forces died Friday when a military transport helicopter crashed in the Northwest Frontier province, officials said.

The pilot sent out a distress call as he flew back to Peshawar from an area near the border with Afghanistan, the BBC reported. The MI-17 helicopter crashed in a Taliban stronghold with militants firing at it, and soldiers sent to the crash site exchanged gunfire with them, officials told the British broadcaster.

Investigators were trying to determine why the helicopter crashed. Officials said the preliminary finding indicated a mechanical problem.

Earlier in the day, The New York Times said, residents of another Taliban-controlled area reported what they called an attack on a remote village by an American drone that killed at least 13 people. An intelligence official confirmed the attack, the Times said.

The Pakistani military is preparing for an offensive in South Waziristan, where Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, is based, the Times said.

Honduran troops seen shooting protest bus

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, July 3 (UPI) -- Honduran soldiers were caught on video shooting the tires of buses carrying protesters supporting deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

The video, obtained by CNN and televised Friday, was reportedly taken just outside Tegucigalpa by a supporter of Zelaya en route to a demonstration in the Honduran capital in favor of Zelaya's return.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza arrived in Honduras Friday to meet officials of the provisional government that assumed control of the poor Central American country after the ouster of Zelaya.

Insulza said he is hopeful that provisional leader Roberto Micheletti will step down so Zelaya can return to office and serve out the remainder of his term, El Nuevo Diario reported Friday. Micheletti, however, has repeatedly stated his new government will not step aside for Zelaya and the deposed Honduran leader will be arrested if he returns.

Military troops arrested Zelaya Sunday before a proposed referendum on presidential term limits. Zelaya wanted to seek a second term next year. By law, the Honduran leader, elected in 2005, is limited to one term in office.

Zelaya was in New York Tuesday to address the United Nations and ask for its assistance. He said he would return to Honduras Saturday.

Powell warns Obama of ambitious agenda

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- Colin Powell, who broke ranks with the Republican Party to support Barack Obama, tells CNN the U.S. president's agenda may be too ambitious and too expensive.

"I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president -- and I've talked to some of his people about this -- is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all," he said. "And we can't pay for it all."

The interview with the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state is to air Sunday on the program "State of the Union."

Powell said he continues to have a good relationship with Obama.

"We stay in touch," he said.

Powell also suggested he has given up on some Republican orthodoxy. He said he does not like "slogans like limited government."

"The people want their problems solved," Powell said. "And very often, it's government that has to do that. So let's have good government, effective government, whether you call it limited or not."

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