in brief

Senator doubts Ivins attacked alone



WASHINGTON: The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday he does not believe that Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy was one of the targets of the lethal anthrax-laced letters that killed five and sickened 17 in fall 2001. At a hearing of his committee, the Vermont Democrat told FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that he thinks other people must have been involved. "I believe there are others involved, either as accessories before or accessories after the fact." Mueller did not directly contradict Leahy, saying he understood but maintained the Justice Department's view that Ivins was the mastermind and sole attacker.

More babies sick; China steps up inspections



BEIJING: The government was dispatching thousands of inspectors to monitor producers as officials reported yesterday that the number of babies sick from tainted milk formula had climbed dramatically to nearly 6,200 from 1,200 a day earlier. At least three children have died and more than 1,300 others, mostly newborns, remain hospitalized. Health Minister Chen Zhu said he expected the numbers of affected babies to increase as "more and more parents take kids to the hospital." The head of China's quality control watchdog agency, Li Changjiang, said 5,000 inspectors would be sent out nationwide to monitor companies after government testing showed that 20 percent of the companies producing milk powder had dairy products with melamine.

Hackers break into Palin's e-mail account


WASHINGTON: Hackers broke into the Yahoo e-mail account that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin used for official business as Alaska's governor, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate. "This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities, and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them," the McCain campaign said in a statement. The disclosure yesterday raises new questions about the propriety of the Palin administration's use of nongovernment e-mail accounts to conduct state business. The practice was revealed months ago - before Palin's selection as a vice presidential candidate - after political critics obtained internal e-mails documenting the practice by some aides. It was not immediately clear how hackers broke into Palin's Yahoo account.

Sudan peacekeepers well behind schedule


UNITED NATIONS: Only half of the 26,000 peacekeepers authorized for Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region will be deployed by the end of the year, far below the 80 percent target, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said yesterday. Alain Le Roy, a French diplomat who just took over the post, confirmed a report by Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon late last month that it will take many more months to get the joint United Nations-African Union force onto the ground. The joint mission took over peacekeeping duties in Darfur from a beleaguered 7,000-strong AU force last January. As of July 31, it had just over 8,100 military personnel and fewer than 1,900 police officers on the ground, out of the 26,000 planned.


7 U.S. soldiers die in Iraq copter crash


An American Chinook helicopter crashed early today as it was landing in southern Iraq, killing seven U.S. soldiers, the military said.

The CH-47 Chinook was landing after midnight about 60 miles west of Basra at the time of the crash, the U.S. statement said. A spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq confirmed that the helicopter had crashed. He said five had died, and the bodies of two soldiers who had originally been missing were found. The spokesman said hostile fire was not suspected. The chopper was part of an aerial convoy flying from Kuwait to the U.S. military base at Balad, just north of Baghdad. The Chinook, the Army's workhorse, is designed to transport troops and supplies to combat and to other regions. Separately, a U.S. soldier died of noncombat-related causes yesterday, and an investigation into the cause of death was under way, the military said.