U.S., Turkey fail to reach compromise

ANKARA, Turkey

The United States failed again yesterday to secure Turkish consent to deploy U.S. forces needed for a northern front against Iraq, as U.S. ships loaded with tanks and other armor awaited orders in the Mediterranean.

Secretary of State Colin Powell called Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday after a Turkish Cabinet meeting ended with no decision, and a top Turkish leader said there were no plans for parliament to take up the issue until at least next week.

In Brussels, Belgium, NATO approved the urgent deployment of AWACS radar aircraft, Patriot missiles and chemical-biological response units to protect Turkey. NATO also ordered experts to report on how the alliance could assist Turkish civilians if there were an Iraqi attack, such as by repairing damaged water and power networks.

But Turkish support for an Iraq operation was in question, stalemated over demands for a reported $30 billion in loans and aid before Turkey will let U.S. soldiers deploy against neighboring Iraq.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey’s ruling party, said after a Cabinet meeting that there had been “no positive” outcome in negotiations with the United States.

Gephardt enters crowded presidential race


Rep. Dick Gephardt, a 26-year veteran of Congress who failed to return Democrats to power in the House, announced his candidacy for president yesterday with a broad attack on Bush administration policies he said “left us isolated in the world, and stranded here at home.”

Entering a crowded Democratic field, the Missouri lawmaker promised to repeal Bush’s tax cuts and use the savings to deliver health insurance to “everyone who works in America.” He accused Bush of pursuing “the economics of debt and regret.”

Gephardt also sought to distinguish himself from lesser-known Democratic rivals by embracing his long record in politics. “I think experience matters,” he said in a text of his address. “It’s what our nation needs right now.”

“I’m not the political flavor of the month. I’m not the flashiest candidate around,” said Gephardt, whose 1988 presidential campaign fizzled after winning the Democratic caucuses in Iowa. “But the fight for working families is in my bones.”

Surrounded by friends and family in the gymnasium at his former elementary school, Gephardt said, “Here in the home of my values, here at the heart of the American dream, I announce my candidacy for the president of the United States.”

Rejected theories for shuttle crash renewed


In the days after Columbia’s destruction, NASA officials were adamant: No way could a piece of foam have caused that kind of damage. No way did ice or metal come off the fuel tank. No way was the left wing breached.

All that – and more – is back on the table and under the microscope, now that an investigation board is calling the shots.

In the 2 1/2 weeks since Columbia shattered 38 miles above Texas, both NASA managers and board members have cautioned that the investigation is in continual flux, with new information turning up all the time. Yesterday, NASA said the shuttle’s nose landing gear was found in the east Texas woods.

But it is the board that has emphasized that everything is under consideration, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or obscure or unimaginable.

Activity at N. Korean site alarms analysts

SEOUL, South Korea

In the past month, U.S. spy satellites have detected smoke rising from the once shuttered buildings clustered around a loop of North Korea’s Kuryong River. Trucks arrived and departed, and workers bustled.

The Yongbyon Nuclear Center is one of the most heavily guarded areas in one of the world’s most secretive nations, and it is the focal point of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

American analysts aren’t sure what is going on there, and some South Korean experts think the North is staging phony activity as a bargaining chip in its effort to get Washington to sign a nonaggression treaty. But the increased movement at the site 50 miles north of the capital, Pyongyang, has increased anxiety over the North’s intentions.

Neighboring nations worry the North may be resuming its program to produce nuclear weapons, fearing that could bring an arms race in the region or even war.

Federal aid to Sept. 11 victims rife with fraud


A $100 million federal program to reimburse New Yorkers for air conditioners, filters, vacuums and other air-purifying tools after the World Trade Center collapse is rife with fraud and abuse, government officials say.

As many as 90 percent of the more than 219,000 applications for reimbursement were filed by people not suffering from the effects of contaminated air, according to estimates from federal officials.

They say fraud has taken several forms: Some people have manipulated the program to score a free air conditioner, while con artists have posed as federal employees and sold air-purifying items to residents.

About $45.8 million has been paid out so far, and while many applications are legitimate, officials said millions have been paid to people scamming the system.

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