Bush names Homeland Security chief
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush chose federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff to be his new Homeland Security chief, turning to a former federal prosecutor who helped to fight terrorism.
“Mike has shown a deep commitment to the cause of justice and an unwavering determination to protect the American people,” Bush said. “Mike has also been a key leader in the war on terror.”
Chertoff headed the Justice Department’s criminal division from 2001 to 2003, where he played a central role in the nation’s legal response to the Sept. 11 attacks, before the president named him to appeals court position in New Jersey.
Chertoff, a federal appellate judge with the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, would replace Tom Ridge, the department’s first chief. “He leaves some very deep shoes to fill,” Chertoff said.
Iraq expands military for elections
Some areas of Iraq will probably be too unsafe to take part in the Jan. 30 elections, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said yesterday in his first acknowledgment of limited voting, and he promised to increase the size of the army in the face of a bloody insurgency, whose latest victims included 13 Iraqis killed by two bombings.
Allawi also spoke by telephone yesterday with President Bush for about 10 minutes to reaffirm the importance of holding the elections as scheduled, the White House said.
In a news conference, Allawi said the government had allocated $2.2 billion to expand the army from 100,000 to 150,000 troops and provide it with new weaponry. Iraq’s armed forces are poorly trained and often under-equipped, making them an easy target for insurgents who want to scuttle the elections.
He acknowledged that some areas of Iraq likely would be too unsafe to participate in the landmark balloting for a constitutional assembly. The country’s volatile Anbar province west of Baghdad and areas in the north around Mosul have seen little preparation for the vote.
19 people missing in Calif. mud slide
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scattered rain showers lashed waterlogged Southern California again yesterday, hampering efforts to find survivors buried by a mud slide in a coastal community and prompting hundreds to flee a mountain town below a rain-swollen reservoir and along rising streams.
The succession of storms that have brought heavy snow to the mountains of Northern California and astonishing amounts of rain in the south was blamed for the deaths of at least 19 people. The National Weather Service said yesterday that downtown Los Angeles had recorded its wettest 15 consecutive days on record, with a total of 17 inches of rain falling in the period ending Monday.
The storm was forecast to taper off late yesterday or early today and no new system is expected through the coming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
Complaints to be filed against election winner
The loser of Ukraine’s presidential election said yesterday he would file massive complaints in court challenging the win by Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko, a move that could prolong the political tensions that have dominated the country for months.
Although Yushchenko was declared the official winner on Monday, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has refused to concede. He contends there was widespread fraud in the Dec. 26 revote — a mirror of the strategy Yushchenko used to gain the annulment of an earlier election in which Yanukovych was declared winner.
Yanukovych said his allies would submit the appeal to the Supreme Court to demand “the annulment of the so-called rerun.” He described the appeal as “a convincing package of evidence that would prove election fraud.”