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Oct. 28, 2009 at 5:00 PM
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Lieberman raises filibuster on healthcare

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., threw cold water onto Democrats' healthcare reform effort, saying he'll help filibuster unless the public option is yanked.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said during a news conference Tuesday.

He also signaled to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he'd support several preliminary procedural votes, Politico reported Wednesday.

"To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt," Lieberman said. "I don't think we need it now."

Lieberman's announcement was stunning but not surprising, Capitol Hill insiders said. Reid knew about Lieberman's objections, and the Senate Democratic Caucus is well aware of his independent streak.

Some Senate liberals told the Washington publication they were surprised by the announcement, saying they thought Lieberman wouldn't back the leadership on even the preliminary procedural vote on the public option.

"It just shows we have a long way to go on this," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a fellow independent who caucuses with the Democrats and backs a public option. "I think the support for this thing is only going to continue growing. ... And in the end, people are going to jump back on board, and we might even get a few Republicans."


Chicago terror plot complaint amended

CHICAGO, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- An amended criminal complaint released Wednesday charged a Chicago man with aiding Pakistani terrorists in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

The federal complaint charged Tahawwur Hussain Rana with conspiracy to provide material support and actually providing material support to agents of the radical group Lashkar-e-Toiba, which planned to strike the newspaper Jyllands-Posten because of its publication of a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed.

Rana appeared for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Nan Nolan but the hearing was continued to next Tuesday.

An affidavit signed by an FBI agent said Rana and a second defendant, David Headly, spoke with Lashkar members about the alleged plan, which was code-named the Mickey Mouse Project.

While Headly actually visited Copenhagen to scout on the newspaper, the Pakistanis earlier this year began shifting their focus from Denmark to India before any attack took place.

Rana, Headly and another suspect were picked up earlier this month.


Series of operations yield arrests in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces, with U.S. advisers, conducted several operations resulting in the arrests of 11 suspects in vehicle bomb networks, the Pentagon said.

The series of operations included searches of several buildings in western Baghdad for a suspect officials thought was responsible for a truck bomb that destroyed government buildings in Baghdad and killed at least 150 people, the U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday.

Based on evidence the forces recovered, U.S. officials said Iraqi officials arrested eight people suspected of associating with a bomb network in Baghdad that is supported by militant cells along the Tigris River Valley.

The Iraqi 3rd Emergency Services Unit, backed by U.S. advisers, also targeted a bomb network in Kirkuk, resulting in the arrest of two people, the Defense Department said.

Iraqi police arrested a person suspected of getting the vehicles used in the attacks about 50 miles south of Mosul.

In addition, Iraqi forces arrested 14 suspects thought to be tied to an al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader in Mosul, the Pentagon said.

Iraqi soldiers in Mosul also arrested a suspected Islamic State of Iraq terrorist group member who was the former extortion ring leader for the region.


Ex-senator gets Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Edward Brooke, the first black elected to the U.S. Senate, received the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday from Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president.

"At a time when so many doors were closed to African-Americans, others might have become angry or disillusioned," Obama said Wednesday during the ceremony honoring Brooke with Congress's highest honor. "They might have concluded that no matter how hard they worked, their horizons would always be limited. So why bother? Not Ed Brooke."

Brooke, 90, was a Republican senator from Massachusetts from 1967 to 1979.

Obama also praised Brooke's ability to reach across the aisle.

"I don't know anyone else whose fan base includes Gloria Steinem, Barney Frank, and Ted Kennedy -- as well as Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, and George W. Bush," Obama said to a round of laughter. "That's a coalition-builder."

Perhaps a better way to honor Brooke would be to emulate the spirit he embraced, Obama said.

Brooke's spirit and legacy are "to compete aggressively at the polls, but then work selflessly together to serve the nation we love; to look for the best in each other, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and to remember that we're here for a purpose far greater than the sum of our own hopes, needs and ambitions," Obama said. "And may we each do our part to carry it forward."

Brooke thanked the president and the congressional leaders for the honor, CNN reported.

"I love this country, since the day I was born, and I was born in the nation's capital on October 26, 1919," he said.

Brooke also urged cooperation among political leaders

"We can't worry that you all can't get together," he said. "You've got to get together. We have no alternative. There's nothing left. It's time for politics to be put aside on the back burner."


Wis. votes to regulate puppy mills

MADISON, Wis., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Large-scale dog breeding facilities, sometimes known as puppy mills, will now be regulated in Wisconsin, lawmakers say.

Buy a 96-0 vote, the Wisconsin Assembly voted Tuesday to approve a bill to regulate the facilities, which will now require licenses from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The newspaper said Wisconsin was one of the few states that had virtually no regulation of "puppy mills." It also lacked an inspections program to assure that dogs and puppies were being treated humanely and the authority in many cases to close the facilities, supporters say.

"This will have a significant impact on elevating the standard of care for puppy mills," Ellen Clark, interim executive director of the Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee, told the Journal Sentinel.


Pastor: Hate crimes bill stifles religion

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A Virginia clergyman says federal legislation defining attacks on gays and lesbians as "hate crimes" will stifle religious freedom.

Bishop E. W. Jackson Sr., who leads Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, Va., says that while he's against anti-gay violence, he also opposes homosexuality and wants to be free to preach against it, The (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday.

Jackson told the newspaper he fears religious leaders could be prosecuted for inciting anti-gay violence, even though the legislation -- expected to be signed Wednesday by President Barack Obama -- contains language meant to preclude prosecution of religious leaders and others on the basis of speech or beliefs.

"We could find ourselves in a situation where we're accused of inciting someone," Jackson said. "I am categorically opposed to the hate crimes bill."

But Rev. Steve Jolly of Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk disagreed, telling the Virginian-Pilot: "If I stand up in the pulpit and say the consumption of alcohol is evil and we should pour it all in the river, that's a personal opinion. That's very different from saying, 'There's a bar down the road; let's break in and pour all the alcohol into the river.'"

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