Washington

Levin, Warner join forces to oppose Iraq policy

Two senators – a Republican and a Democrat – leading separate efforts to put Congress on record against President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq joined forces yesterday,

agreeing on a nonbinding resolution that would oppose the plan and potentially embarrass the White House.

Sens. John Warner, (R-Va.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) had been sponsoring competing measures opposing Bush’s strategy of sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to the war zone, with Warner’s less harshly worded version attracting more Republican interest. The new resolution

would vow to protect funding for troops while keeping Warner’s original language expressing the Senate’s opposition to the buildup.

Levin replaced Warner as chairman

of the Armed Services Committee

when the Democrats took control of the Senate in January. Their resolution could well gain more support from members of both parties than their separate versions had been attracting. It lacks Levin’s language saying the troop increase is against the national interest, and it drops an earlier provision by Warner suggesting Senate support for some additional troops.

Caraccas, Venezuela

Chavez gets power of presidential decree

President Hugo Chavez was granted free rein yesterday to accelerate changes in broad areas of society by presidential decree – a move critics said propels Venezuela toward dictatorship.

Convening in a downtown plaza in a session that resembled a political

rally, lawmakers unanimously gave Chavez sweeping powers to legislate by decree and impose his radical vision of a more egalitarian socialist state.

Iraq Study Group members say police training botched

Training the police is as important

to stabilizing Iraq as building an effective army there, but the United States has botched the job by assigning the wrong agencies to the task, two members of the Iraq Study Group said yesterday.

“The police training system has not gone well,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the bipartisan commission.

For a second day, a key Republican

directly challenged President

Bush to do more than pay “lip service” to this and other recommendations

on how to resolve the troubled conflict in Iraq.

“I’d think the executive branch would be well advised to do more than have a meeting and a news conference

to give in-depth consideration

to what is being proposed here,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

Boston

One arrest in backfired marketing ploy

Several illuminated electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city yesterday in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Most if not all of the devices depict a character

giving the finger.

Peter Berdovsky, 29, of Arlington, was arrested on one felony charge of placing a hoax device and one charge of disorderly conduct, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said later yesterday. He had been hired to place the devices, she said.

Highways, bridges and a section

of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads were sent in before authorities declared the devices were harmless.

Authorities are investigating whether Turner and any other companies should be criminally charged, Coakley said. It wasn’t immediately clear yesterday who might have hired Berdovsky.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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