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Sheriff's office to halt serving eviction notices

CHICAGO: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said yesterday that his office plans to stop serving eviction notices on people who have fallen behind on mortgage payments as well as renters unaware their buildings have fallen in arrears. He said his action was necessary in light of the national foreclosure crisis that is driving down the American economy. Dart acknowledged that he could be found in contempt of court for ignoring court orders but said he was willing to risk that to carry out "justice." He noted that hundreds of Chicago's Cook County residents each month are evicted after sheriff's deputies show up at their doors, not knowing that their landlords haven't made their mortgage payments. Dart did say, however, that evictions not related to inability to pay mortgages on time will continue. Such evictions would include renters in apartment buildings who don't pay their rent or violate lease agreements.

U.S. says 33 civilians killed in Aug. airstrike

WASHINGTON: The military said yesterday that U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan on Aug. 22 killed 33 civilians, far more than previously acknowledged. While expressing regret, it blamed the Taliban, the targets, for taking up fighting positions near civilians. The civilian toll of 33 compares with an original U.S. estimate of five to seven. The Afghan government and U.N. investigators said there were 90 civilian deaths. In a summary of its findings from a detailed investigation, the U.S. Central Command said 22 militants died in the assault on a village compound intended to kill or capture an unnamed "high-value individual." Rear Adm. Greg Smith, a Central Command spokesman, said that the matter is considered closed and that no disciplinary action is contemplated against anyone involved, in light of the investigation's conclusion that due diligence was exercised and that there was no violation of the laws of war.

2 Americans, Japanese get Nobel in chemistry

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Two Americans and a U.S.-based Japanese scientist won the Nobel Prize in chemistry yesterday for research on a glowing jellyfish protein that revolutionized the ability to study disease and normal development in living organisms. Japan's Osamu Shimomura and Americans Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien shared the prize for discovering and developing green fluorescent protein, or GFP, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. Researchers worldwide now use GFP to track such processes as the development of brain cells, the growth of tumors and the spread of cancer cells. It has let them study nerve-cell damage from Alzheimer's disease and see how insulin-producing beta cells arise in the pancreas of a growing embryo, for example. The academy compared the impact of GFP on science to the invention of the microscope.

Court blocks order to free Chinese Muslims

WASHINGTON: A federal appeals court temporarily blocked yesterday a judge's decision to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims at Guantanamo Bay into the United States. In a one-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued the emergency stay at the request of the Bush administration. The three-judge panel said it would postpone release of the detainees for at least another week to give the government more time to make arguments in the case. The appeals court set an Oct. 16 deadline for additional filings, but it is up to the judges to decide how quickly to act afterward. "The decision is quite a blow," said Emi MacLean, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing many of the detainees. "We basically have to go to the men after telling them they would be released and say that their detention is once again indefinite."

Somali pirates could get $8 million ransom

NAIROBI, Kenya: The Somali pirates who hijacked an arms-laden Ukrainian freighter nearly two weeks ago might soon be getting their ransom - loads of it, maritime officials and associates of the pirates said yesterday. After sticky negotiations which several people involved likened to bazaar-style haggling, a deal seemed to be close in which the pirates would be paid millions of dollars and the ship would be freed. The pirates and the shipowners have agreed on about $8 million, said Ahmed Omar, a businessman in Xarardheere, a notorious pirate den on the coast of Somalia. He said the ship might be freed today. Maritime officials in Kenya were more cautious, saying crucial details had to be worked out. For starters, the pirates were asking for guarantees that they would not be arrested or blown out of the water by the armada of American warships currently circling them.

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