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Aug. 7, 2010 at 6:11 PM
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Funerals held for victims of beer shooting

HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The funerals of four of the eight men killed by a co-worker at a Connecticut beer distributor drew hundreds of family members and friends, observers say.

Funerals were held Saturday at various locations for 51-year-old Bryan Cirigliano, 60-year-old Victor T. James, 60-year-old Craig A. Pepin and 56-year-old Douglas A. Scruton, the Hartford Courant reported.

The men were among eight people killed at the Hartford Distributors in Manchester Aug. 3 when 34-year-old Omar Thornton of Enfield opened fire on his co-workers before turning his gun on himself.

Thornton had just finished a disciplinary hearing with his supervisors and union representatives where he had been given the option of resigning or being fired for allegedly stealing beer from the company.

He was being escorted from the building when he started shooting.

All four men in Saturday's funerals were longtime employees at Hartford, averaging almost 30 years with the company. James and Scruton were within months of retirement, the Courant said.

Taliban says it killed 10 aid workers

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting dead 10 members of a medical charity team -- six of them Americans -- in a remote forest.

Authorities said the bodies of all the victims, who also include a Briton, a German and two Afghan translators, were found near abandoned vehicles in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan, the BBC reported.

The Christian charity International Assistance Mission has been working in Afghanistan since 1966, providing eye care and other medical care for impoverished Afghans.

Aqa Nwor Kentoz, the northern Badakhshan province police chief, told CNN gunmen stopped the victims on a road, took their belongings and shot them one by one. Kentoz said one Afghan was released because he was reciting parts of the Koran.

IAM Executive Director Dirk Frans told the British broadcaster the slain members had been working for 2 1/2 weeks in the province of Nuristan at the invitation of communities.

"This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people," IAM said in a statement on its Web site. "We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year."

Frans said the aid workers and their Afghan interpreters were not Christian missionaries and were not carrying Bibles, as the Taliban asserted when it claimed responsibility for the killings.

The team was returning to Kabul through Badakhshan because members thought that would be the safest route, Frans said.

In a statement on its Web site, IAM condemned "this senseless killing of people who have done nothing but serve the poor."

The bodies were to be transported to Kabul during the weekend.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said it had reason to believe several American citizens died in the attack.

"We cannot confirm any details at this point, but are actively working with local authorities and others to learn more about the identities and nationalities of these individuals," the embassy said in a statement.

The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the BBC it was "urgently looking into this."

Greenspan: Roll back all tax cuts

NEW YORK, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan raised eyebrows by calling for complete repeal of tax cuts made by the Bush administration, observers say.

In contrast to the White House desire to keep tax rates steady for all but the country's wealthiest, Greenspan urges a rollback of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts he implicitly backed at the time, The New York Times reported Saturday.

In doing so he has discounted the arguments of Republicans and even a few Democrats that such a move could threaten an already shaky economic recovery.

"I'm in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money," Greenspan, 84, said. "Our choices right now are not between good and better; they're between bad and worse. The problem we now face is the most extraordinary financial crisis that I have ever seen or read about."

Greenspan led the Federal Reserve for 18 years until he retired in 2006.

Critics were quick to come down on Greenspan's proposal.

"Such a large tax increase in the middle of a period of sluggish economic growth would be a very bad idea," R. Glenn Hubbard said.

Hubbard was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003 and was an architect of the tax cuts.

Schwarzenegger: Resume gay marriages

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- California's governor says gay marriages should be allowed to resume in the state immediately during the appeal process of a recent ruling overturning Prop. 8.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was joined by state Attorney General Jerry Brown in urging Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker to permit same-sex marriages, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Walker overturned Proposition 8's ban of gay marriage Wednesday, ruling it violated federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Moral disapproval was not reason enough to deny gays what courts view as a fundamental right to marry, he said.

Schwarzenegger said California was prepared to marry gay couples.

"Government officials can resume issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty," Schwarzenegger's office said in written arguments to the court.

An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples wed in 2008 before Proposition 8 passed.

Brown said possible administrative difficulties should not be used as an excuse for denying gays the right to wed.

"While there is still the potential for limited administrative burdens should future marriages of same-sex couples be later declared invalid, these potential burdens are outweighed" by the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians, Brown said.

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