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The UK's Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline


Written on 1:15 PM by yahoo

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The UK's Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline in Afghanistan and seen combat, the UK Ministry of Defense confirmed Thursday.

Prince Harry on patrol in the deserted town of Garmisir, Afghanistan.
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He was deployed 10 weeks ago and his fellow soldiers were sworn to secrecy.

The prince's status is currently being reviewed, the Ministry of Defense said.

Harry is third in line to the British throne and serves with the Blues and Royals.

His main role has been as a member of a group called Joint Tactical Air Control, or JTAC.

"As far as I'm concerned I'm out here as a normal JTAC on the ground and not as Prince Harry" he said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "The whole of Britain will be proud of the outstanding service he is giving. For the last 10 weeks, he has joined the thousands of members of the British Armed Forces who have served with such distinction in difficult circumstances in Afghanistan since 2001."

In a pre-deployment interview with the British Press Association, he said: "If I'm wanted, if I'm needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do."

The head of the British Army, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, said Harry's deployment had been kept secret after striking an agreement with the media. Video Watch Prince Harry on the front lines in Afghanistan »

British and international media -- including CNN -- had agreed not to report Harry's deployment because of security concerns for him and his unit. The military confirmed the operation after a U.S. Web site broke the news blackout.

Dannatt said: "What the last two months have shown is that it is perfectly possible for Prince Harry to be employed just the same as other Army officers of his rank and experience. Video Watch how a top secret operation deployed Prince Harry »

"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary. He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his Battlegroup.

"In common with all of his generation in the army today, he is a credit to the nation."

Dannatt added that he and senior commanders will now be reviewing Harry's deployment.

Last year, the military ruled Harry could not be sent to Iraq because publicity about the deployment could put him and his unit at risk.


About 8,000 'surge' troops will remain in Iraq, Pentagon says


Written on 9:02 PM by yahoo

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- About 8,000 of the 30,000 "surge" troops sent to Iraq in 2007 will not go home as planned this summer, the Pentagon said Monday.

President Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January 2007 as part of a troop surge.

Support troops -- including helicopter crews, supply units, military police and headquarters staff -- will still be needed when the additional combat units return home, said Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In particular, U.S. troops are still needed to guard Iraqi prisons, he said.

"The transfer of responsibility for detention operations has not progressed as rapidly as we would like to the Iraqis, so there's a need to have that force sustained, as well," Ham said.

President Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January 2007 to pacify Baghdad and its surrounding provinces. When the last of the five Army combat brigades and two Marine battalions ordered in as part of that campaign leave Iraq by July, 140,000 troops will remain -- about 8,000 more than the 132,000 U.S. troops stationed there before the surge, Ham told reporters at the Pentagon.

"This will be very much conditions-based, but that's our projection as of today," he said.

He said top U.S. commanders are debating whether to make further withdrawals after July. The U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, is scheduled to issue another report on the progress of the war in April, and Ham said it would be "premature" to discuss further withdrawals now.
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The Bush administration has touted a sharp reduction in the sectarian warfare that wracked Baghdad throughout 2006 -- and an accompanying drop in American death tolls -- as signs of the campaign's success. But Ham said the support troops are still needed to preserve that progress.

"Rather than look at this negatively, I would say there is an opportunity now to take advantage of the security that has been established by the five surge brigades," he said. "And you want to sustain that and not jeopardize the gains that have been achieved."

Critics say the political goals of the surge -- an Iraqi settlement of the nearly 5-year-old war -- have not yet been accomplished. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, said Sunday that Iraq remains far from stable.

"If we've had so much success, then why are our commanders concerned about pulling troops down and wanting to freeze them at at least the level that we had before the surge?" Hagel told CNN's "Late Edition."

But Ham said the campaign has encouraged Iraqis to take steps toward reconciliation and to turn against Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda, which is blamed for some of the war's worst attacks on civilians.

"I would say that there is increasing pressure on al Qaeda in Iraq everywhere inside Iraq," he said. "Again, it is premature to declare victory or anything, but it is very clear that, wherever al Qaeda in Iraq tries to operate, they are increasingly being resisted by Iraqi security forces, clearly by the U.S. and other coalition members, and most importantly by the people of Iraq -- and that's really what's making the difference."


Feds: Renzi made $700,000-plus in deal that led to indictment


Written on 2:37 PM by yahoo

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi has been indicted on charges he promised to support legislation in exchange for a land deal that netted the Arizona Republican more than $700,000, the Justice Department said Friday.

Rep. Rick Renzi, shown here in Baghdad, Iraq, in April 2007, has denied any wrongdoing.


In a 35-count indictment unsealed early Friday, Renzi, 49, is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion and insurance fraud.

Also named in the indictment is Renzi's former business partner and real estate investor, James W. Sandlin, 56, of Sherman, Texas, and Andrew Beardall, 36, of Rockville, Maryland.

Renzi's attorneys, Reid Weingarten and Kelly Kramer, denied their client had done anything wrong.

"We will fight these charges until he is vindicated and his family's name is restored," the attorneys said in a statement.

The attorneys said their client had buried his father, Eugene Renzi, at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.

"We are disappointed that the Department of Justice would not allow a decent amount of time to pass to allow a son to mourn the passing of his father," the statement said.

At a news conference in Phoenix, Arizona, prosecutors said Renzi conspired with Sandlin to conduct a land swap in exchange for the congressman's push to get a House committee's approval for the deal.

Federal prosecutors said Renzi received $733,000 in the deal but did not disclose the income to Congress in his 2005 financial disclosure statement.

U.S. Attorney Diane Humetewa said that Renzi "used his official authority as a United States representative" to ensure that the 2005 federal land exchange included land owned by Sandlin.

Another goal of the conspiracy was to conceal that Renzi received a portion of the proceeds from the deal, according to the indictment.

Renzi was having financial difficulty in 2005 and "needed a substantial infusion of funds to keep his insurance business solvent and maintain his personal lifestyle," the indictment said.

philwebsupport The 26-page indictment outlines a series of transactions involving Renzi and Sandlin, who were co-owners of Fountain Realty and Development, until Renzi ran for a seat in Congress and sold his share of the company to Sandlin.

Sandlin bought out Renzi's interest for $200,000 and a note for $800,000, according to a statement from the Justice Department. In 2005, when Sandlin still owed him $700,000 on the note, "Renzi insisted that two separate entities doing business in Arizona purchase Sandlin's property in exchange for his support on land exchange legislation," authorities said.

Renzi and Beardall are charged with insurance fraud, accused of embezzling more than $400,000 in insurance premiums from the trust account of the Patriot Insurance Agency, a business owned by the Renzi family in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, to fund his congressional campaign in 2001 and 2002. They're also accused of making false statements to influence state regulatory investigations, a statement said.

"There were concealment efforts, misrepresentations and fraudulent statements made," Humetewa said.

If convicted, Renzi could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and extortion and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering and concealing money laundering as well as lesser sentences for convictions on the other counts, prosecutors said.

Renzi and the other defendants will be served summonses to appear in U.S. Magistrate Court in Tucson, Arizona, for an arraignment March 6, Humetewa said.

Renzi has been under an ethical cloud since the FBI raided a family business last year. The FBI said it was investigating whether the congressman had used his office for personal gain.

He stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee in April after the raid.

Renzi, a three-term member of the House, announced in August that he would not seek re-election. He represents Arizona's 1st Congressional District.

from cnn

Romney suspends White House bid


Written on 4:46 PM by yahoo

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign for the Republican party nomination for the US presidency.

Mr Romney spent millions of dollars of his own money on the campaign, but fell well behind front-runner John McCain after Super Tuesday's primaries.

Correspondents say his exit has in effect cleared the way for Senator McCain as Republican candidate.

Senator McCain congratulated Mr Romney and invited his supporters to join him.

"You are welcome to join my campaign, and it will be a campaign based on conservative principles and a consequential election about the country's future," he said.

"I'd be deeply humbled to receive the nomination of my party as we continue to move forward in this campaign."

I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st Century - still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world
Mitt Romney

Why Mitt Romney quit
Profile: Mitt Romney
Mitt quits in presidential style

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Washington says Senator McCain worked hard to reach out to conservative Republicans, who have frequently attacked him for being too liberal.

He stressed his support for core issues such the pro-life movement and permanent tax cuts, as well as President Bush's troop surge in Iraq.

Officially former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are still in the campaign, but they stand no realistic chance of victory.

Tough decision

Analysts, however, say Mr Romney has not officially dropped out of the race. Suspending the campaign allows him to lay claim to his delegates and use them as leverage to win concessions from the eventual nominee.

He announced his decision at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

He said the decision had not been an easy one.

John McCain
12 states, 707 delegates
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New Hampshire

Mitt Romney
11 states, 294 delegates
Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah

Mike Huckabee
6 states, 195 delegates
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia
1,191 delegates needed for nomination. Source: AP (includes all kinds of delegates)

Delegate scorecard
Excerpts: Romney speech

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and frankly I'd be making it easier for Senator Clinton or [Barack] Obama to win," Mr Romney said at the conference.

He added that he would continue to fight for conservative principles, which were now needed more than ever.

"I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st Century - still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower," he said.

A successful businessman, he had hoped to be the first US president from the Mormon religion.

But he failed to translate leads in opinion polls into victories in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

In recent weeks, conservatives in the party rallied behind him as a candidate who they hoped could stop Senator McCain.

But the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says he faced resistance among some evangelical Christians because of his Mormon faith.

He also had difficulty convincing his party that he held strong beliefs on some very important subjects, such as abortion rights, immigration and gun ownership.

'Unite the party'

Mr McCain skipped the annual conference last year, angering many members of the group.

Saturday: Louisiana and Washington state (multi-party); Nebraska (Democratic); Kansas (Republican)
Sunday: Maine (Democratic)
Tuesday: Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC (multi-party)

Q: What's next?

He enjoyed wins in the big states of California and New York, as well as Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Missouri, Connecticut, Delaware, and his home state of Arizona.

Some key conservative figures have refused to vote for Mr McCain in the presidential election if he wins the nomination.

Mr Huckabee, who is popular with evangelical Christians, took five states on Tuesday, backing up the widely held view that Mr McCain lacks support from conservatives in his own party.

Mr Huckabee will speak to the conservative conference on Saturday.


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