No one higher in the chain of command than the US colonel who led the military intelligence unit at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison will be blamed directly for the abuses there, according to a report in The New York Times on a high-level Army inquiry. "There was no direct policy directive out of the Pentagon that caused this," said an unidentified official quoted by the Times. None-theless, American commanders reportedly were found to have created conditions that allowed the abuse to occur. A Pentagon spokesman said the report is nearing completion.

At a firefighters union convention in Boston, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that has accused him of embellishing his Vietnam combat record, "a front for the Bush campaign." The day before, while campaigning in Wisconsin, President Bush announced a proposal to enhance education benefits for active-duty National Guardsmen and reservists, some of whom have served unexpectedly long tours in Iraq.

An inspector general's report obtained by the Reuters news agency calls for the Army to "take appropriate corrective action" in addressing violations of Pentagon rules by Lt. Gen. William Boykin. Boykin apparently failed to clear speeches he made last year that described the war on terror as a Christian battle against Satan.

In an attempt to spur lagging international donations to a UN-initiated global fund for fighting AIDS and other diseases, the US said Wednesday it would release a $120 million payment to the cause if other countries make up their $243 million shortfall by Sept. 30. Congress set aside $547 million for this year's contribution to the fund on the condition that American funding not exceed 33 percent of total donations.

Beginning Nov. 1, United Airlines and American Airlines will cut 37 daily peak-hour arrivals at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to relieve congestion problems, which cause flight delays to cascade throughout the US. The temporary remedy, announced Wednesday by federal transportation officials, will run through April, in hopes of reducing delays at O'Hare by about 20 percent and across the rest of the nation by 5 percent.

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