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U.S. declares Iraq security pact final

BAGHDAD: The U.S. responded yesterday to Iraqi proposals for changes in the draft security pact that would keep American troops here for three more years, saying it now considers the text final and it is up to Iraq's government to push the process to approval. U.S. and Iraqi officials would not release details of Washington's response, which was contained in a letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But a senior Iraqi official familiar with the negotiations said Washington accepted some proposals and rejected others, presumably an Iraqi demand for expanded legal authority over American troops and Defense Department contractors. The official would not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Iraqi lawmakers have said the demanded changes are essential to winning parliament's approval before the Dec. 31 deadline, when the U.N. mandate for the U.S.-led coalition expires. Without an agreement or a new mandate, the U.S. would have to suspend all military operations in Iraq.

$300 million gift to Univ. of Chicago

CHICAGO: An alumnus has given the University of Chicago one of the largest college donations ever: $300 million. Dean Edward Snyder said yesterday that the unrestricted gift to the business school from David G. Booth and his family is "historic." Booth is the chairman and CEO of the asset management firm Dimensional Fund Advisors. He earned his master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1971. Officials say the school will be renamed the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in his family's honor.

At least 19 die in Pakistan attacks

KHAR, Pakistan: Two suicide bombers attacked pro-government tribesmen and security forces yesterday in Pakistan's volatile northwest, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens, officials said. The separate attacks came in a region where the Pakistani military has clashed for months with Islamic insurgents allied with Taliban and al-Qaida militants who are involved in attacks on American and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Algerians challenge 7-year detention

WASHINGTON: Seven years after their capture, six Algerian men denied yesterday that they planned to fight with al-Qaida and asked to be released from prison in the first case of suspected terrorists challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay. The men, who were arrested in Bosnia in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, are being held without charges as enemy combatants at the U.S. detention facility on Cuba. Last summer, detainees won the right to sue for their release in U.S. civilian courts after a Supreme Court case by one suspect, humanitarian aid worker Lakhdar Boumediene. During more than two hours of arguments in federal court in Washington, the Justice Department accused the Algerians of planning to travel to Afghanistan and join al-Qaida in its global jihad against the United States and its allies. Lawyers for the Algerians said there is no evidence the men ever would have ended up on a battlefield or posed any threat to the U.S. Therefore, the lawyers said, the U.S. should not consider the men enemy combatants, as defined by the judge hearing the case, and must free them.

Officials say Yucca site won't meet nuclear need

WASHINGTON: The Energy Department will tell Congress in the coming weeks that it should begin looking for a second permanent site to bury nuclear waste or approve a large expansion of the proposed waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Edward Sproat, head of the department's civilian nuclear waste program, said yesterday that the 77,000-ton limit Congress put on the capacity of the proposed Yucca waste dump falls far short of what will be needed and has to be expanded, or another dump built elsewhere in the country. President-elect Barack Obama has said he doesn't believe the desert site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas is suitable for keeping highly radioactive used reactor fuel up to a million years and believes other options should be explored. Sproat, addressing a conference on nuclear waste, said the Energy Department will send a report to Congress in the coming weeks maintaining that the Yucca site will need to be expanded. Yucca Mountain is not projected to be opened before 2020 at the earliest.

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