Supporters Seek Release Of Convicted Spy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Supporters of Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel, said U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has asked permission to speak to Congress about his case.

They said Frank has also called on President Barack Obama to weigh in on the matter, answering the many calls for Pollard’s immediate release, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987.

He temporarily left a North Carolina prison Tuesday to undergo an urgent surgical procedure.

Supporters said the 56-year-old Pollard suffers from a myriad of health problems, including high blood pressure.

Sources close to Pollard told the Post his health has been deteriorating for some time and he is in pain.

Pollard’s wife, Esther, visited her husband last week and remained in North Carolina for his surgery.

Details about the surgery were not released in keeping with prison rules.

Girls Found Hidden Under Man’s Floor

PICCADILLY, Newfoundland, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Two girls, 12 and 13, were found cowering under the floorboards of a home of a Newfoundland man under orders to avoid children, Canadian police said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they received complaints 41-year-old Brian Benoit was breaking a court order to avoid being with anyone under the age of 16, The Western Star newspaper reported Wednesday.

Mounties went to Benoit’s home in Piccadilly in western Newfoundland Monday evening and said they could see two young females through the windows.

They knocked on the door and said Benoit took some time before answering. Officers couldn’t initially find the girls, but discovered a door under a rug that opened to a crawl space beneath the living room, police said.

The girls had been drinking alcohol but were otherwise unharmed, the report said.

Benoit was charged with breaching a court order, supplying alcohol to minors, sexual interference, sexual assault, trafficking in a controlled drug or substance, and resisting or obstructing a peace officer. He will appear in court Thursday, police said.

Details of why he was under a court order to avoid minors weren’t released.

Report: Kim Jong Un Involved In Attacks

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un, son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was involved in the two attacks against South Korea last year, Chosun Ilbo reported citing a document.

The North Korean document “Lecture Materials” designed for military propaganda officers, which the South Korean newspaper said it obtained Tuesday from a source in China, relates to the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November.

The two incidents, blamed on North Korea, together killed 50 people and worsened already tense relations between the two Koreas stemming from the North’s nuclear program and its missile tests.

Chosun Ilbo reported Wednesday the document showed the attacks were to drum up domestic support for Kim Jong Un’s succession after his father. It said the document claims the son was deeply involved in both the attacks.

The report quoted the Chinese source, who claimed to do business with North Korean trading companies, as saying the propaganda officers have been indoctrinating the North’s soldiers to show absolute loyalty to Kim Jong Un based on those materials.

“They even have to take a test after their indoctrination classes,” the source said.

Tropical Storm Emily Sets Hispaniola In Its Sights

MIAMI, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Emily was expected to cross the island of Hispaniola Wednesday before heading to the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical storm warnings were posted for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands, the Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory.

Emily, about 180 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was moving along a west-northwesterly track at nearly 14 mph. The storm’s sustained winds were 50 mph.

The center said Emily was expected to shift toward the northwest with little change in forward speed. The center was forecast to move across Hispaniola later Wednesday and into the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands Thursday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected throughout the warning area Wednesday and Thursday.

Emily is expected to produce 4-6 inches of rain in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, with isolated amounts possibly reaching 10 inches, the National Hurricane Center said. The rains could cause flash floods and mudslides. Total rain accumulations of 2-4 inches were expected in the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

A storm surge will raise water levels by 1-2 feet above normal tide levels in the warning area, the center said. In near coastal areas, the surge will be accompanied by large, dangerous waves.

Obama’s Schedule For Wednesday, Aug. 3

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — President Barack Obama meets with his Cabinet the travels to Chicago for Democratic Party events, the White House said.

The daily schedule indicates Obama will:

— Receive the daily briefing.

— Conduct a Cabinet meeting.

— Meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

— Meet with Attorney General Eric Holder.

— Travel to Chicago, where he will speak at several Democratic National Committee events at the Aragon Entertainment Center.

Hurricane Eugene Expected To Weaken

MIAMI, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Hurricane Eugene remained far away from the Mexican coast Wednesday as it churned about in the Pacific Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said.

Eugene, a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph, was about 570 miles from Baja California, Mexico, moving west-northwest at 14 mph, the Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.

The center said Eugene would remain on its current path and pose no threat to land. The storm could strengthen early Wednesday before it begins to weaken as it moves over colder water.

Japan Warns Of Beijing’s Maritime Policies

TOKYO, Aug. 3 (UPI) — China’s maritime activities are “overbearing” and arouse “anxiety about its future direction,” Japan’s annual Defense Ministry white paper states.

The document called “Defense of Japan, 2011″ — approved by the Cabinet — describes China’s rapid modernization of its military hardware as an attempt to “strengthen its capacity to have its military potential reflected in distant locations.”

Beijing’s buildup of its maritime power and its defense policy in general, which was noted in last year’s white paper, continues to be “a concern for the regional and the international community,” a report by Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said. China should “be aware of its responsibility as a major power and abide by international rules.”

To mark Japan’s concern over China, the Ministry of Defense created in the white paper a new section dealing with Beijing’s activities specifically in the South China Sea, the Yomiuri Shimbun report said.

The document — the longest annual defense report at nearly 600 pages — says Japan fears the territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, in particular the dispute over the Spratly Islands, “will affect peace and security in regional and global society.”

The Spratly Islands — the largest group — lie off the southwest coast of the Philippines as well as Brunei and Malaysia. Ownership of the Spratly Islands is the most difficult of all the territorial claims because of the number of claimants, including Vietnam and Taiwan.

Further north, off the west coast of the Philippines, lies the Scarborough Shoal, disputed between China and the Philippines. Meanwhile, Vietnam and China are fighting for sovereignty over the Paracels, a group of islands south of China’s Hainan Island province and off the east coast of Vietnam.

The white paper concludes that China “can be expected to expand its sphere of naval activities and carry out operations as a routine practice in the East China Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.”

There was praise for joint drills by Japan and the United States because they prepared both organizations to cope with disaster relief work in the aftermath of the devastating March Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The operation was “particularly important to secure the life and safety of affected people.”

At the time, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”

Police confirmed upward of 16,000 deaths, 5,700 injured and more than 5,000 people missing. Also, more than 125,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

The white paper praised Operation Tomodachi, meaning Operation Friends, a U.S. military assistance operation to support Japan in disaster relief following the earthquake. It included 20 U.S. naval ships, 140 aircraft and more than 19,000 sailors. The cost was around $80 million.

Japan’s annual defense white paper comes after China signed an agreement last month with the Association of South East Asian Nations concerning peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

The document was signed only several days after China complained to the Philippines over a Filipino politician’s visit to a disputed Spratly island.

However, the China-ASEAN agreement, signed at the 44th ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Indonesia, was welcomed by Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.

“This is an important milestone document on the cooperation among China and ASEAN countries,” Liu told reporters at the meeting. “And we have a bright future and we are looking forward to future cooperation.”

But there is concern among China’s neighbors that Beijing is beefing up its maritime military hardware.

Beijing acknowledged last month it has in production its first domestically built aircraft carrier. It will complement the Varyag aircraft carrier, which it bought from Ukraine and is expected to begin sea trials this year.

After Debt Fight, Obama Moves To Jobs

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — President Barack Obama said he would move beyond the U.S. debt-limit fight and tackle job creation as Washington was about to release its latest jobs report.

“In the coming months, I’ll continue … to fight for what the American people care most about — new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate approved a plan to raise the federal debt limit and cut government spending, ending a bitter partisan standoff.

“While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking, What can we do to help the father looking for work? What are we going to do for the single mom who’s seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that ‘now hiring’ sign?”

Facing re-election in 15 months, and with unemployment at 9.2 percent, Obama called on Congress to extend unemployment-insurance benefits and a payroll-tax credit for employees.

He urged lawmakers to approve a patent overhaul, free-trade deals and an infrastructure-funding bank.

“There’s no reason for Congress not to send me those bills so I can sign them into law right away, as soon as they get back from recess,” he said.

The Senate, which finished its legislative business Tuesday, is in recess until Sept. 6. The House, which wrapped up its work Monday, returns Sept. 7.

“It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs,” Obama said.

“Both parties share power in Washington and both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” he said, vowing to offer ideas “in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”

Republican lawmakers had no immediate comment on Obama’s remarks.

Senate and House Republicans have their own jobs agendas for the fall. They include trade agreements and a patent bill as well as longer-term goals such as reducing government regulations, increasing energy production and reducing individual and corporate tax rates.

“Every meeting I’m in talks about the regulatory burden that we’re experiencing throughout the American economy — massive increases in regulation,” USA Today quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as saying.

The U.S. Labor Department is expected to release its July jobs report Friday, with many economists forecasting the unemployment rate would remain at 9.2 percent and new jobs created would show a net growth of 90,000 to 120,000 — 120,000 to 150,000 jobs in the private sector and a loss of 30,000 government jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Employers added 18,000 new jobs in June, the Labor Department said, with the private sector creating 57,000 positions and the government cutting 39,000.

The unemployment rate rose that month from 9.1 percent in May, and both hourly earnings and the average work week ticked down.

50 Shed Clothes On Wall Street, 3 Arrested

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A New York artist said he convinced 50 people to disrobe along Wall Street for his project and three of the performers were arrested.

Zefrey Throwell said his performance piece, titled “Ocularpation: Wall Street,” involved 50 people dressed as street sweepers, secretaries, chief executive officers and other occupations shedding their clothing at 7 a.m. Monday in the Financial District, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

Throwell, who said he was inspired when his mother lost her savings in 2008 and had to return to work, said the performance was a call for “transparency” on Wall Street.

“I came up with this as an educational project to help illuminate the mysterious wheels of Wall Street,” Throwell told the New York Daily News. “It’s not just a strip tease.”

The Post said three participants were arrested after getting naked in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Christine Coleman, Eric Anderson and Aaron Mattocks were charged with disorderly conduct and exposure. They were issued summonses and released.

Man Robs 7-11 In SpongeBob Suit

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Authorities in Florida said they were trying to identify an armed man who robbed a 7-11 store while dressed as the cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants.

Osceola County sheriff’s spokesman Twis Lizasuain said the costumed robber and a second man held up the store, located outside of Orlando, Thursday and escaped with a drawer full of cash, WPBF-TV, West Palm Beach, Fla., reported Tuesday.

Lizasuain said shots were fired during the incident, but no injuries were reported.

The spokesman said the crime was unusual for the department.

“It’s not unusual for criminals to disguise their identity,” Lizasuain said. “It is unusual he would use that particular character.”