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NATIONAL BRIEFS


WASHINGTON: Obama talks tough to Cuba

President Barack Obama called on the Cuban government Wednesday to respect the rights of its people. In a statement, Obama cited the recent jailhouse death of a dissident on a hunger strike, uniformed security agents blocking an opposition march by women demanding the released of jailed loved ones and harassment of other protesters. He called the events "deeply disturbing" and said they show that Cuban authorities continue to respond to the aspirations of its people with a clenched fist.


Overtime session with Netanyahu

The United States and Israel engaged in overtime talks Wednesday, trying to win agreement on gestures Israel can take to restore confidence among Palestinians and the Obama administration. Officials said Mideast envoy George Mitchell met late in the afternoon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who extended his stay by hours to work on a deal. The talks ended about 8 p.m. without any announcements.


Clinton, Pakistani differ on their meeting

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Wednesday the United States is likely to pay Pakistan nearly $2 billion this spring that is owed it for cooperation against terrorism. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, made no mention of that long-sought payment, or of plans for approval for weapons sales to Pakistan. Only modest progress was reported in their discussions aimed at broadening their cooperation beyond the hunt for terrorists.


NEW YORK: New indictment for Madoff accountant

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have beefed up their case against an accountant who served as operations chief for jailed Ponzi king Bernard Madoff. An indictment was returned Wednesday against Daniel Bonventre, containing a new charge of falsifying records of an investment adviser. He had earlier been arrested on conspiracy, securities fraud and tax charges. Bonventre will enter a plea Thursday.


CALIFORNIA: Booby-trap attacks on police

Four municipal trucks were set ablaze in a Riverside County town plagued by bizarre booby-trap attempts to kill police officers. Someone called police Tuesday to report a fire in the parking lot at Hemet City Hall, within two blocks of the police department. Hemet, a quiet retirement city 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, has been rocked by a series of booby-trap attacks against police officers in recent weeks.


MONTANA: Parolee found after 38 years

A hitchhiker sentenced to be executed for the 1951 killing of a Montana man who picked him up during a blizzard has been found running a wedding chapel in Arizona under an assumed name 38 years after he skipped out on parole. The victim's grandson hired an investigator who tracked Frank Dryman to his Arizona City notary and chapel business, where he was known as Victor Houston. Now 78, Dryman was awaiting extradition proceedings.

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