National Digest

NATIONAL DIGEST

July 15, 2004

President to give speech at Urban League gathering

WASHINGTON - President Bush, who angered black leaders by declining to address the NAACP last week, will speak next week to the National Urban League, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday.

Bush will deliver remarks July 23 at the Urban League convention in Detroit. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts is scheduled to address the convention the previous day.

Although Bush spoke to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2000 when he was running for president, he has not done so since taking office, describing his relationship with current leadership as "basically nonexistent." Kerry is due to speak to the NAACP convention in Philadelphia today.

Ridge denies politics has role at Homeland Security

BOSTON - Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday that the warnings he gave the public last week about a possible terror attack before the elections have nothing to do with politics.

"We don't do politics at Homeland Security," Ridge said at a news conference, adding that the department's job is to transmit credible information to the public. Those who suggest otherwise have reached "rather cynical" conclusions, he said.

With Boston Harbor as a backdrop, Ridge said the government is going to tremendous lengths to create unparalleled security for a Democratic National Convention, which begins July 26 at the city's Fleet Center. "Our goal is to deter any potential attack with multiple layers of security," said Ridge, the Republican former governor of Pennsylvania.

Pentagon says it's hiding no one from Red Cross

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon denied yesterday that it is hiding any imprisoned terrorism suspects from the International Committee of the Red Cross. A Defense Department spokesman would not comment on whether other U.S. agencies might be doing so.

"I can say that ICRC has access to all detainee operations under our control," said Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "Beyond that, I'm just not prepared to discuss it."

The CIA has declined to comment on whether it might be holding terrorism suspects at foreign locations. On Tuesday, Antonella Notari, spokeswoman for the Switzerland-based ICRC, said terrorism suspects reported by the FBI as captured have never turned up in detention centers known to the Red Cross, and the United States has failed to reply to Red Cross demands for a list of all detainees.

Archaeologists unearth possible Donner kitchen

TRUCKEE, Calif. - Archaeologists have unearthed a cooking hearth in the Sierra Nevada where they believe the Donner Party gathered for meager meals in the months before starvation led to the country's most famous tale of cannibalism.

Government and university researchers said yesterday that bone fragments they located appear to be large enough to allow for DNA testing to determine whether they are human. They also found lead shot, musket balls, jewelry beads and wagon parts.

If some of the bones are human, they would be the first physical evidence to back up survivors' accounts that some members of the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism to survive while trapped in snow during the winter of 1846-1847.

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