USA

The British deputy to the top US commander in Iraq said Tuesday the country's sectarian conflict is not a full-blown civil war but could be described as a "civil war in miniature." British Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Fry told reporters at the Pentagon that murders and other acts of violence have declined substantially in Baghdad in recent weeks.

Federal prosecutors sued Maine utility regulators and Verizon Communications Inc. on Monday to block the release of information related to the government's domestic surveillance program. Reacting to alleged privacy law violations, the state's Public Utilities Commission on Aug. 9 ordered Verizon to provide a sworn statement about the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program. Prosecutors then filed the suit to stop Verizon from discussing the program publicly, citing national security concerns.

Bureaucracy and a lack of money are slowing the rebuilding of New Orleans nearly a year after hurricane Katrina hit, Mayor Ray Nagin said Monday. The city is still waiting on federal approval for much of the $1 billion requested for essential infrastructure, he said. Federal officials appointed by President Bush to oversee Gulf Coast rebuilding said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved 53 percent of the $1 billion allocated, and sent the money to Louisiana.

Hundreds of volunteers plan to keep watch over the Texas-Mexico border beginning Sept. 11, aiding US border patrol efforts to halt illegal immigration. The eight-week "Operation Sovereignty" – to begin on the fifth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks and end on Election Day, Nov. 7 – is meant to draw attention to the millions of illegal immigrants in the US and those still crossing the border.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced a new public service campaign Monday that will warn teenage girls against posting information on the Internet that could put them at risk of attack by child predators. Spurred by Justice Department studies showing 1 in 7 children using the Internet had been sexually solicited and 1 in 11 has been harassed, the ad campaign aims to educate teens and parents on how to surf the Web safely. The series of ads will run next year.

US District Judge Marcia Cooke threw out a murder-conspiracy charge facing former "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla Monday on grounds that it duplicated other charges still pending against the alleged Al Qaeda operative and thus violated the constitutional guarantee against "double jeopardy."

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