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April 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM
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Jindal asks for Guard; Obama orders review

NEW ORLEANS, April 30 (UPI) -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called up the National Guard to help protect the state's environment and economy from an encroaching oil spill.

In Washington, President Barack Obama directed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to report to the White House in 30 days on any additional safeguards needed to prevent oil spills like the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

In letters to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Jindal wrote: "The National Guard will provide security, medical capabilities, engineers and communication support in response to this threat. I believe these National Guard operations are necessary and appropriate to protect this region of our nation from a significant national event with potential catastrophic loss of natural resources."

In his letters, Jindal also sought funding for at least 90 days of military duty.

Obama directed Salazar to report about what precautions and technologies may be needed to prevent spills similar to the one that has spewed hundreds of gallons of oil into the gulf, menacing the Louisiana coastline. The U.S. Coast Guard said crews patrolled coastal marshes, looking for areas where the oil seeped in, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"We're going to make sure that any leases going forward have those safeguards," Obama said Friday at the White House.

The oil emergency followed an April 20 explosion on a Deepwater Horizon rig in the gulf. Eleven of the rig's workers are missing and presumed dead.

Clinton warns Syria of provocative acts

WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Syria's reported policy of supplying weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon is pushing the Middle East on a path to war, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"We have spoken out forcefully about the grave dangers of Syria's transfer of weapons to Hezbollah," Clinton said during remarks Thursday at the American Jewish Committee in Washington. "Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel. It would have a destabilizing effect on the region."

Clinton was discussing Israeli assertions that Syria recently transferred Scud missiles to the Hezbollah, which is on the U.S. list of terrorists. While the United States has expressed concerns about Hezbollah's build-up in strength, Washington officials haven't confirmed Israel's accusation.

"We do not accept such provocative and destabilizing behavior -- nor should the international community," Clinton said. "President (Bashar al-Assad) is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region."

The United States would not re-engage diplomatically with Syria "as a reward or a concession," Clinton said. "Engagement is a tool that can give us added leverage and insight, and a greater ability to convey strong and unmistakably clear messages aimed at Syria's leadership."

Regional peace must begin by all parties acknowledging the United States will stand behind Israel's security, Clinton said.

"Israel's right to exist, and to defend itself, is not negotiable. And no lasting peace will be possible unless that fact is accepted," she said. "But similarly, Palestinians must have a state of their own. They must be able to travel, conduct business, govern themselves and enjoy the dignity of a sovereign people. There can be no equivocating on this either."

Greek PM: 'A battle for survival'

ATHENS, Greece, April 30 (UPI) -- Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greece was in a "battle for survival" as he prepared to propose further austerity measures to reduce government debt.

"We are forced to fight a battle for survival. We will do whatever it takes to save the country," Papandreou said.

While negotiators from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund negotiated details on a loan agreement, reportedly worth $160 billion, Greece worked on details to bring its costs down and push its taxes higher.

Papandreou said negotiations with the EU and IMF "will be completed in the coming days," Kathimerini reported Friday

In Athens, New Democracy Party leader Antonis Samaras said the prime minister inherited a deficit problem, but then "with his contradictory policy turned it into a borrowing crisis."

"We must not let the vicious circle of recession lead us to absolute collapse," he said.

China limits state secrets

BEIJING, April 30 (UPI) -- The Chinese parliament has narrowed the definition of state secrets and limited the number of government agencies that can classify secrets.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee adopted the amended law Thursday, Xinhua, the official government news agency, reported. It takes effect in October.

Under the new law, the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets can classify information at the national level. In local government, agencies above the county level are responsible for safeguarding information.

The law defines state secrets as information that could hurt the security and interests of the Chinese state in politics, the economy and defense, among other areas, if it became public.

Professor Wang Xixin of Beijing University Law School said many local officials have been using the state secrets classification to keep embarrassing information from the public.

Palin e-mail hacker convicted

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 30 (UPI) -- A Knoxville, Tenn., jury Friday convicted a University of Tennessee student of hacking into former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's e-mail.

David C. Kernell, 22, was convicted on federal charges of destroying records to hamper a federal investigation and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer but was acquitted of wire fraud. A mistrial was declared on an identity theft charge.

U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips said he would set a sentencing date after prosecutors decide whether to retry Kernell on the identity theft charge, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

The verdict came in the fourth day of jury deliberations.

Kernell, the son of a state lawmaker, illegally gained access to Palin's Yahoo! e-mail account during the 2008 presidential campaign and posted information on the Internet that allowed others access to her account.

Palin and daughter Bristol testified last week. Palin called Kernell's actions disruptive.

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