Senator upset with shutterbug Dem


Republican state Sen. Tom George, a mild-mannered doctor who often gives upbeat talks on the Senate floor about healthy lifestyles or Michigan history, was uncharacteristically angry when he stood up to talk this week.

The target of his ire was the fact that a Democratic staff member, during a politically sensitive vote giving immediate effect to an expanded sales tax on services, had taken photos of the voting board even though it wasn’t a recorded vote.

“It was a serious violation that can only be interpreted one way – as an attempt to collect information which, when taken out of context, could be used in a political attack on any member of this chamber,” the Portage lawmaker said Wednesday.

The Senate’s Democratic leader, Mark Schauer of Battle Creek, denied the photo-taking he ordered had anything to do with partisan politics.

“We have no right as senators to cast votes in secret,” he said.


Sen. Craig says he’ll complete term

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office yesterday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men’s room sex sting.

“I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively,” Craig said in a written statement certain to disappoint fellow Republicans who have long urged him to step down.

Craig had earlier announced he would resign his seat by Sept. 30, but had wavered when he went to court in hopes of withdrawing his plea.

The third-term lawmaker issued his statement not long after Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter relayed word he has selected a replacement for Craig in the event of a resignation.

“He is ready to act should we receive a letter of resignation,” said Jon Hanian, Otter’s spokesman in Boise, in what seemed like a calculated signal that home-state Republicans want Craig to surrender the seat he has held for 17 years..


Potential sanctions influence talks

Hoping to deflect outrage over images of soldiers gunning down protesters, Myanmar’s hard-line leader announced yesterday he is willing to talk with detained democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi – but only if she stops calling for international sanctions.

Senior Gen. Than Shwe also insists Suu Kyi give up urging her countrymen to confront the military regime, state television and radio said in reporting on the conditions set by the junta leader during a meeting this week with a special U.N. envoy.

The surprise move is aimed at staving off the possibility of economic sanctions and keeping Myanmar’s bountiful natural resources on world markets, while also pleasing giant neighbor China, which worries the unrest could cause problems for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Plane crashes in Congo’s capital

In a thunderous blast, a cargo plane slammed into an impoverished residential neighborhood in Congo’s capital seconds after takeoff yesterday, leaving at least 25 people dead in a smoky wreckage of concrete blocks and twisted debris.

The fiery crash underscored the dangers of flying in Congo, which has experienced more fatal air crashes than any other African country since 1945, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said three Russians were among the dead: the pilot, the co-pilot and a flight engineer.

Cargo planes in Congo are frequently flown by pilots from former Soviet states.

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