In brief | Nation & World 10-31-13


Iraq asking for new help to battle al-Qaida

WASHINGTON — Nearly two years after pushing out the U.S. military, Iraq is asking for more American weapons, training and manpower to help fight a bloody resurgence of al-Qaida that has unleashed a level of violence comparable to the darkest days of the nation’s civil war.

The request will be discussed during a White House meeting Friday between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Barack Obama in what Baghdad hopes will be a fresh start in a complicated relationship that has been marked by victories and frustrations for each side.

“We know we have major challenges of our own capabilities being up to the standard. They currently are not,” Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We need to gear up, to deal with that threat more seriously. We need support and we need help.”

He added: “We have said to the Americans we’d be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground.”

“Boots on the ground” means military forces. The U.S. withdrew all but a few hundred of its troops from Iraq in December 2011 after Baghdad refused to renew a security agreement to extend legal immunity for Americans forces that would have let more stay.

Israel announces plans to build more homes

JERUSALEM — Israel announced plans Wednesday to build more than 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, dealing a setback to newly relaunched peace efforts hours after it had freed a group of long-serving Palestinian prisoners.

The construction plans drew angry condemnations from Palestinian officials, who accused Israel of undermining the U.S.-led talks by expanding settlements on the lands where they hope to establish an independent state. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned the Israeli decision, and Washington said it would not create a “positive environment” for the negotiations.

Israel had freed the 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement to restart the talks. The construction was meant to blunt anger over the release of the prisoners, all of whom had been convicted of murder in the deaths of Israelis.

Report: NSA broke into data center links

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, indicates that NSA sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters. In the past 30 days, field collectors had processed and sent back more than 180 million new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received emails and when, to content such as text, audio and video, the Post reported Wednesday on its website.

The latest revelations were met with outrage from Google, and triggered legal questions, including whether the NSA may be violating federal wiretap laws.

2nd mistress testifies at doctor’s murder trial

PROVO, Utah — Another mistress of a former Utah doctor accused of killing his wife testified Wednesday that he had once described how he could induce a heart attack in someone that would appear natural.

Anna Walthall took the witness stand and said she began a six-month affair with defendant Martin MacNeill in 2005 when he was a consulting doctor at a laser hair removal clinic she operated.

MacNeill described the heart attack method during “pillow talk,” she said.

Walthall quoted MacNeill as saying, “‘There’s something you can give someone that’s natural that’s a heart attack that’s not detectable after they have a heart attack.’”

No cause of death has been determined for Michele MacNeill.

By wire reports