Pentagon aims to boost Pakistan’s paramilitary

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon wants to nearly double the funding to train and equip a Pakistani paramilitary force, saying the locally-based fighters are more effective in the difficult region bordering Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has asked to spend $97 million in 2008, compared with $52.6 million this year, on training and equipping the Frontier Corps, which has personnel of the same ethnicity as the recalcitrant tribes along the border.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the U.S. is not arming the Frontier Corps, but is spending money to build a training center in the region for the fighters while also looking for additional funds to buy them equipment such as helmets, vests and night-vision goggles.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, judges hand-picked by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf quashed legal challenges to his disputed re-election as president, paving the way for him to fulfill a promise to quit as army chief, perhaps by the end of the month.

Musharraf declared emergency powers Nov. 3, ordering the detention of thousands of opponents and shutting independent TV channels. He also removed Supreme Curt judges unwilling to support the order, days before they had been expected to rule on his eligibility for a new presidential term.

@3. Headline News Briefs 14 no:Homeland Security adviser resigns

Fran Townsend, the leading White House-based terrorism adviser who gave public updates on the extent of the threat to U.S. security, is stepping down after 4½ years. In a letter to President Bush, she said she decided to “take a respite from public service.”

@3. Headline News Briefs 14 no:Tyson ‘no antibiotics’ label revoked

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has told Tyson Foods Inc. to stop labeling chicken as “raised without antibiotics” after the agency said it made a mistake in approving that term, but Tyson disputed the finding Monday and said it hopes to win approval for a modified label.

Texas: DFW airport flight delays

A software problem disrupted radio communications at both Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport control towers early Monday, while fog, snow and wind diverted or delayed flights in Southern California. Fog also delayed flights in Atlanta, and high wind caused delays at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport.

Georgia: Boys held in rape case

Three boys, ages 8 and 9, were being held Monday in a detention center on charges of kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old girl near an Acworth apartment complex, officials said. Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said the boys could not be charged with felony crimes because of their age but could be tried for alleged delinquent acts that could place them in a juvenile facility for up to five years.

S.C.: Bus driver had aneurysm

A tour bus driver had a brain aneurysm and drove off a Interstate 26 near Charleston into some trees Monday, killing himself and injuring about 30 passengers, authorities said.

Poland: U.S. missile hesitation

The new defense minister, Bogdan Klich, said Poland should reconsider whether allowing the United States to base part of a missile defense system in the country serves its interests. The new prime minister, Donald Tusk, has vowed to take a firmer stand in relations with the United States.

Spain: ‘Shut up’ ringtone popular

Many Spaniards were so amused when their king told Venezuela’s president to “shut up” they want to hear the words every time their phone rings. About half a million people have downloaded a mobile phone ringtone featuring the phrase “Por que no te callas?” or “Why don’t you shut up?” That’s what King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a heated confrontation at a summit in Chile last week.

Cambodia: Genocide charges

Cambodia’s U.N.-backed genocide tribunal arrested the former Khmer Rouge head of state and charged him Monday with crimes against humanity and war crimes, a spokesman said. Khieu Samphan, 76, was the last of five senior officials of the brutal regime to be taken into custody ahead of a long-delayed genocide trial.

Brazil: Ride for stranded whale

A whale that swam about 1,000 miles up the Amazon River may get a ship ride back to the ocean, environmentalists said Monday. The 18-foot minke whale was stranded on sandbars at least twice since first spotted last week. A group of biologists and veterinarians was trying to contain the whale in a small area of river while it arranges for a ship to carry it back to the sea.

From Herald news services

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