WASHINGTON

Libby pleads not guilty in CIA leak case

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff pleaded not guilty to a five-count felony indictment yesterday in the CIA leak case, signaling a protracted court battle that is sure to prolong debate about the White House’s prewar use of intelligence on Iraq.

I. Lewis Libby appeared at his arraignment with trial lawyers Ted Wells and William Jeffress, known for their ability to win jury acquittals for high-profile clients in white-collar criminal cases.

“With respect, your honor, I plead not guilty,” Libby told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, a former prosecutor who has spent two decades as a judge in the nation’s capital.

Cheney and other top White House officials could be called to testify if Libby goes to trial. He is charged with obstruction of justice, two counts of lying to the FBI and two counts of committing perjury before a federal grand jury.

 

Senate approves $36b in spending cuts

A plan to impose the first cuts since 1997 to benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and farm subsidies headed for a Senate vote yesterday that could give Republicans a modest victory against rising government spending.

Every Democrat opposed the measure, but GOP support seemed firm since the bill had few cuts that swing vote moderates found offensive.

The bill covers dozens of programs and does not make major cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and for the poor and disabled. It also contains a hotly contested provision to open an Alaskan wilderness area to oil drilling.

The Senate bill is estimated to trim $34 billion from budget deficits totaling $1.6 trillion over five years – just 2 percent. For the plan’s first year, with deficits predicted to exceed $300 billion, the cuts total $6 billion.

 

Alito hearings to begin second week of Jan Jan. January, though Bush wanted earlier

The Republican-controlled Senate will begin hearings Jan. 9 on Judge Samuel Alito’s appointment to the Supreme Court, leaders of the Judiciary Committee announced yesterday, a bipartisan repudiation of President Bush’s call for a final confirmation vote before year’s end.

“It simply wasn’t possible to accommodate the schedule that the White House wanted,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee chairman. He outlined a timetable that envisions five days of hearings, followed by a vote in committee on Jan. 17 and the full Senate on Jan. 20.

 

AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France

Riots in Parisian suburbs gain momentum

A week of riots in poor neighborhoods outside Paris gained dangerous new momentum yesterday, with youths shooting at police and firefighters and attacking trains and symbols of the French state.

Facing mounting criticism, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin vowed to restore order as the violence that erupted Oct. 27 spread to at least 20 towns, highlighting the frustration simmering in housing projects that are home to many North African immigrants.

Police deployed for a feared eighth night of clashes, after bands of youths lobbing stones and petrol bombs ignored President Jacques Chirac’s appeal for calm a day earlier.

 

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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