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Britain plans major cuts in military

BRITAIN

BUDGET STRAIN FORCES MAJOR CUTS IN MILITARY

Washington's closest ally unveiled its deepest military cuts since the end of the Cold War, with a cash-strapped Britain announcing Tuesday that it will withdraw thousands of troops from continental Europe, decommission warships, mothball an entire class of fighter jets and delay upgrading its nuclear arsenal. The cutbacks would not affect the war in Afghanistan, where British troops make up the second-largest contingent after the United States. Britain said it would invest in more helicopters and armored vehicles to aid military operations there. Overall, the $60 billion defense budget will be cut by 8 percent over the next four years. Senior Pentagon officials were largely supportive of Britain's decisions and expressed confidence that British forces would continue to play a leading role in dealing with problems such as terrorism, the Afghan war, cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation.

Washington

No mandatory cadmium limits

Staff at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has been scrambling to deal with risks posed by cadmium since high levels were found in some children's jewelry, said Tuesday that they won't insist on mandatory limits for an element that can damage kidneys and bones. Instead, the agency will defer to a private-sector group that has been drafting voluntary limits for several months.

INDIA

Pakistan blamed in Mumbai attack

Pakistan's main intelligence service was far more involved in funding and orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attack than was previously believed, according to a classified Indian investigative report. But that conclusion was disputed Tuesday by U.S. intelligence officials, who said they saw no evidence to substantiate agency involvement. The Indian report is based primarily on the interrogation of David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American militant who was arrested last year in Chicago and pleaded guilty this year in U.S. federal court to helping plot the attack that killed 166 people.

ISRAEL

Negotiators agree to extend talks

The Obama administration has secured pledges from senior Mideast leaders to continue their fitful peace negotiations until after next month's U.S. midterm elections, largely to avoid handing the Obama administration an embarrassing diplomatic setback before the Nov. 2 elections. Israeli and Palestinian officials told McClatchy Newspapers Tuesday that efforts to reach a compromise would continue until at least Nov. 3

Elsewhere

Dallas: A federal judge Tuesday sentenced a Jordanian national who tried to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper to 24 years in prison. Hosam Smadi faced up to 30 years in prison.

Iraq: A roadside bomb hit the convoy of the top U.N. official in Iraq after a meeting with revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf on Tuesday. U.N. envoy Ad Melkert was unhurt, but the blast killed an Iraqi policeman and wounded three others.

Britain: Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been admitted to a hospital in London after a recent bout of flu, officials said Tuesday.

Times wires

Britain plans major cuts in military

10/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 1:14am]
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