Gilani: Ready To Sort Out Ties With U.S.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 29 (UPI) — The Pakistani military is on the “same page” with the government to repair the ruptured Pakistan-U.S. relationship, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

“There are some misunderstandings with the U.S. and we are ready to resolve them,” Gilani said Thursday while inaugurating a photo exhibition in Islamabad, Dawn newspaper reported.

In reply to a reporter’s question about the position of the Pakistani military, seen as the real power in the country, on the government’s resolve, Gilani said: “We are all on the same page,” the report said.

U.S.-Pakistan relations have deteriorated since May 2 when a U.S. Navy SEALs team, without informing the Pakistani military, killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a raid on his compound in Pakistan’s garrison city of Abbottabad, near Islamabad.

Many U.S. lawmakers have questioned how bin Laden could have lived in the compound for years without the knowledge of either the Pakistani military or the government.

Relations also were affected earlier with the arrest and subsequent release of a U.S. CIA contractor in Lahore for killing of two Pakistanis, which the contractor said was in self-defense.

“Pakistan army understands the cost of peace and is always prepared for any sacrifice for the sake of national as well as international peace and security,” Dawn quoted the Pakistani military’s public relations as saying.

Union Files Complaint About Heat Lamps

CHICAGO, July 29 (UPI) — A union representing housekeepers at the Park Hyatt in Chicago says the hotel used heat lamps as a weapon against protesters.

Unite Here Local 1 said a complaint against Hyatt Corp. has been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The alleged incident took place July 21, while Chicago was enduring a heat wave. Union officials said 10 heat lamps were used during a demonstration.

“The employer assaulted the employees and tried to fry them by shining heat lamps on them in the middle of what was already a hot, humid day,” the complaint said.

Ofelia Martinez said many of her co-workers have suffered physical injuries, including back and wrist injuries from lifting mattresses.

“Turning the heat lamps on us is just another example of how Hyatt abuses us,” she said in a statement.

The company said the manager who ordered the heat lamps used retired the following day.

6,000 A Year Get Ill From Heat, Athletics

ATLANTA, July 29 (UPI) — About 6,000 people got emergency room care during the past decade for heat illness suffered during a sport or recreational activity, U.S. health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says men accounted for three-quarters of the cases and people age 15-19 accounted for one-third of those sick from the heat and physical activity.

The two most common activities leading to heat-related hospital emergency department visits were football and exercise, the report says.

“Anyone can be susceptible to heat illness, and thus it’s necessary to take appropriate steps to prevent it,” the report says. “These include taking frequent rest breaks, consuming plenty of fluids and limiting activity during very hot or humid days.”

Other prevention tips include giving your body several days to acclimate to hot weather and wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

“All persons who are physically active, including those who participate in unstructured sports and recreational activities, need to take appropriate actions to protect themselves from heat illness,” the report says. “When heat illness occurs, prompt recognition and response can save lives.”

Miyagi Beef Cattle Shipments Banned

TOKYO, July 28 (UPI) — The Japanese government has banned shipments of beef cattle from another prefecture in the country’s nuclear crisis-hit northeast region.

The decision to widen the ban to cover Miyagi Prefecture was taken after elevated radioactive cesium over the government safety limit was detected in some cattle from that prefecture, Japan Times reported.

Earlier, a similar shipment ban was imposed on nearby Fukushima Prefecture, site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. Workers with the utility operating the plant have been battling since then to bring the plant’s damaged reactors to what is called a cold shutdown to check the radiation emissions.

After Fukushima and Miyagi, the government may place a similar ban on beef cattle also from Iwate Prefecture, where five cattle were found contaminated with elevated cesium levels, Japan Times reported. The issue has caused widespread concern across the country.

The cesium is believed to have come from straw contaminated by the fallout from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

“We feel regret for those in the stock-breeding industry but we will firmly continue to collect information and examine the situation from the viewpoint of safety,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. “And naturally, we will take measures if necessary.”

Farmers responsible for shipping the affected cattle, and others who feed their cattle contaminated straw, would be required to conduct tests on all of their slaughtered beef, the report said. Edano was quoted as saying the government would try to provide “appropriate compensation” to those farmers.

The Financial Times reported with the rising public concern, Aeon, Japan’s largest supermarket chain, has already begun conducting its own independent tests for its customers.

Cyprus: Cabinet Resigns

NICOSIA, Cyprus, July 28 (UPI) — The Cabinet of Cyprus resigned Thursday at the request of the president, who cited a deadly munitions blast and a down economy as reasons for the overhaul.

A spokesman for President Dimitris Christofias announced the resignations, Voice of America reported. Stefanos Stefanou said Christofias asked the 11 Cabinet members to remain on the job until a new government is installed.

The defense and foreign ministers had already resigned.

Cyprus is in shock from a munitions explosion at a naval base earlier in July that killed 13 people, including the chief of the Cypriot navy. The explosion also damaged a key power plant, causing electricity shortages to about half the country.

Experts have said repairs could last longer than a year and cost more than $1 billion, VOA reported.

On Wednesday, the Moody’s credit rating agency downgraded Cypriot government bonds, saying the outlook for the country was negative. Moody’s said it took the action because of fiscal and economic conditions caused by the damaged power plant, as well as Cyprus’ political climate.

Bee Stings Kill Horse

RIVERSIDE, Calif., July 28 (UPI) — Swarms of bees killed a horse Thursday afternoon in Southern California in an attack that may have been triggered by fly repellent, authorities said.

The horse’s owner was seriously injured by stings as well, the Los Angeles Times reported. Riverside County Animal Services officers found the horse dead after the owner, being treated at a local hospital, asked for someone to be sent to look at the animal.

The stinging in Riverside may have been set off by the fly repellent, animal control officers said. The chemical apparently sent bees swarming from two hives.

GOP Puts Off Debt Plan Vote

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — House Republican leaders said Thursday they are postponing indefinitely a vote on a debt-limit bill by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, due to lack of GOP support.

“No vote tonight,” Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters late Thursday, hours after a planned vote earlier Thursday was delayed while GOP leaders searched for enough votes from recalcitrant Republican House members to secure passage for the bill.

The Rules Committee was to convene late Thursday to pass a rule permitting work on the bill to resume Friday, The Hill reported.

The GOP bill would raise the federal debt ceiling by $900 billion and cut spending by $912 billion, a plan 51 Democrats and two Independents in the Senate have already said they will vote against.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., called the Boehner plan “the closest thing to a bipartisan agreement.”

“I don’t like this measure, but I’m voting for it. … I want to make sure the United States of America does not default. I urge my colleagues in the name of sanity … that we pass this measure,” Dreier said.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., lambasted the bill, saying, “There is no common ground here, nor was it sought.” Hoyer went on to call the plan an “intolerable” motion designed to create a “political impasse” yielding “catastrophic consequences.”

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., echoed Hoyer, saying: “This bill is not bipartisan. The vote will soon show that. It is not a compromise. It brings more uncertainty. A bill that is a bridge to nowhere between our two houses.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., accused Republicans of playing a “reckless, hypocritical and abusive” game of “fiscal chicken, threatening the full faith and credit of the United States for their own ideological agenda.”

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the bill incorporates many of the elements sought by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and repeatedly asked his Democratic colleagues, “Where is your plan?”

Before the vote was postponed, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called the plan a “compromise bill” that should be sent to the Senate Thursday.

Prior to the rules vote that began the debate, House Democrats rose to denounce what they called “the Republican Default Act.”

“The Republican Party’s deficit plan is very simple,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. “One, prolong the default crisis. Two, push the nation to the very brink of economic collapse. Three, repeat it all again and again, until Election Day 2012.”

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has said the Boehner bill “could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern history.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Thursday the so-called Gang of Six in the Senate was waiting for both the Reid and Boehner plans to fail so they can draft their own proposal.

“Speaker Boehner’s plan may or may not pass the House. I assume it will, Conrad told Fox News Channel. “But it will fail in the Senate. Senator Reid has a plan … but I think it’s likely that at this moment that won’t get cloture, won’t get 60 votes.”

Reid, speaking shortly after the House rules vote, said if the bill reaches the Senate “it will be defeated.”

“No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid approach. Economists have said that a short-term arrangement holds many of the same risks as a technical default. … Our economy and the financial markets desperately need stability. Speaker Boehner’s bill does not provide either,” Reid said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday he believes a compromise will be achieved.

“We continue to believe and remain optimistic that Congress will come to its senses, that cooler heads will prevail,” Carney said. “It really isn’t that complicated at this point. What we need to do is get beyond voting on dead-on-arrival measures that aren’t going to become law when we have so few days left to reach a compromise. … We believe that’s going to happen. …

“There are a lot of ways to get to compromise here and that is what the American people, I think, really want us to do is to compromise, not stick it to anybody, not score political victories and see who can be blamed for the economic damage that would be done by the fight here,” Carney said.

Fourteen top bank and other executives — members of the Financial Services Forum — Thursday sent a letter to the White House and Congress demanding action this week.

“The consequences of inaction — for our economy, the already struggling job market, the financial circumstances of American businesses and families, and for America’s global economic leadership — would be very grave,” the bankers warned.

“Our economic recovery remains very fragile. A default on our nation’s obligations, or a downgrade of America’s credit rating, would be a tremendous blow to business and investor confidence — raising interest rates for everyone who borrows, undermining the value of the dollar, and roiling stock and bond markets — and, therefore, dramatically worsening our Nation’s already difficult economic circumstances.”

Efforts to corral GOP caucus votes Wednesday included Boehner telling Republican colleagues to “get your ass in line” behind his measure that would grant President Obama a limited increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

LaHood: Air Passengers Should Get A Break

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — Airlines should give fliers a break while federal taxes on plane tickets are not being collected, U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood said Thursday.

But the secretary, appearing at a White House briefing, said the government has no power in the era of deregulation to keep airlines from raising fares by the amount of the tax.

“Well, I have talked to the largest aviation association here in Washington that represents all the airlines, and I have told them that I am not happy about the fact they continue to add to citizens’ ticket price — now, these are people who are planning vacations, who are planning to fly, people who live on a budget,” LaHood said. “They’re collecting this money and it’s going to their bottom line, and I think that is not right. And I simply think its not fair for them to do that, and I’ve made that known to them.”

Congress has failed to agree on a bill temporarily reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration because Democrats have refused to support changes Republicans made in the legislation. LaHood, who served seven terms in Congress as a moderate Republican from Illinois, called on Republicans to support a “clean bill.”

Humala Sworn In As President Of Peru

LIMA, July 28 (UPI) — Ollanta Humala did the expected as he was sworn in Thursday as president of Peru and announced increases in the minimum wage and old-age pensions.

Humala, a left-of-center politician who ran for president on a more centrist platform, announced the creation of a new department, the ministry of development and inclusion, The Wall Street Journal reported. He said wealth in the country needs to be more evenly distributed.

But the president also promised to continue economic policies that have kept Peru growing for more than a decade, the Journal reported. He said he would maintain “healthy economic growth and macroeconomic standards” and show “respect for the fiscal rules to confront external crises or natural disasters.”

Business analysts told the Journal they found the president’s inaugural speech reassuring.

“Mr. Humala’s speech contained what was expected, and most importantly didn’t include any radical changes, which should be a positive for markets and adds credibility to what he has been saying since the June 5 run-off vote,” said Cesar Perez, managing director with Celfin Capital.

AWOL Soldier Evidently Aimed At Fort Hood

KILLEEN, Texas, July 28 (UPI) — An AWOL soldier arrested in Killeen, Texas, appeared to be preparing for a bomb attack on Fort Hood, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Pfc. Nassar Jason Abdo had been absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., since July 4. He was arrested Wednesday in a motel room in Killeen, The New York Times reported.

Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said Abdo made statements suggesting he was aiming at Fort Hood. A law enforcement official told the Times a search of his motel room turned up items that included a uniform with Fort Hood patches, a list of materials needed for a bomb and an article from an al-Qaida magazine on how to make a bomb at home.

Greg Ebert, a retired police sergeant who works at Guns Galore in Killeen, told the Killeen Daily Herald a young man bought six canisters of smokeless powder Tuesday afternoon, choosing a mix of fast and slow powders that could be “highly volatile” in combination. He described the man as rude and said he appeared not to know much about explosives.

Ebert said he reported the man to police after he left as suspicious, leading to Abdo’s arrest.

Troy Roland, an Army spokesman, said Abdo faced a child pornography charge when he disappeared. He also said Abdo had been seeking discharge as a conscientious objector.

Abdo a native of Garland, Texas, enlisted in 2009, Roland said.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with killing 13 people in a burst of gunfire at Fort Hood in November 2009.