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Bush Sends Warning Meant For Syria: Don’t Meddle in Lebanon

President Bush said Thursday that the United States would freeze the property and assets of anyone trying to undermine Lebanon’s democratically elected government — a move intended as a sharp warning to Syria and its ally, Hezbollah, not to meddle in Lebanese affairs.

The announcement, in an executive order and an accompanying letter to Congress, reflects heightened concern in Washington that Syria is trying to reassert control over Lebanon. It comes a little more than a month after the administration announced that it was enacting a travel ban, barring “those who have contributed to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon,” including leading Syrian intelligence officials, from entering the United States.

Taken together, the steps are an effort to ratchet up pressure on Syria at a time when the administration contends that it is helping to fuel the insurgency in Iraq, as well as creating instability in Lebanon. Bush’s order deems interference in Lebanon’s government to be an “extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and declares it a “national emergency.”

House Passes Bill Expanding Children’s Health Insurance

Over angry Republican objections, the House passed on Wednesday an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, financed with increases in tobacco taxes and cuts in subsidies to private Medicare insurance plans for older Americans.

The bill embodies the Democrats’ vision for health care, taking a step toward the goal of universal coverage while reversing what they see as Republican efforts to “privatize Medicare.”

By a vote of 225-204, the bill was approved, with support from 220 Democrats and five Republicans. Ten Democrats joined 194 Republicans in voting against the measure. The bill would provide coverage for more than 4 million uninsured children in low-income families, prevent cuts in doctors’ Medicare payments scheduled for Jan. 1 and raise the federal cigarette tax 45 cents a pack, to 84 cents.

It would also increase assistance to low-income Medicare recipients and eliminate co-payments for most preventive care provided to Medicare recipients.

London Police Criticized in Slaying After 2005 Terror Attack

The London police misinformed the British public about the identity of an innocent man shot dead by the police at a subway station the day after an attempted terror attack in London in 2005, an investigation by a police watchdog group concluded Thursday.

The group’s finding says that an assistant police commissioner knew that the police had mistaken a Brazilian electrician for a suicide bomber but failed to tell the police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, thus allowing erroneous reports to appear in the news media.

Last month, four Muslim men of East African origin were found guilty of plotting the attack on the London transit system on July 21, 2005.

Television and newspaper reports after the shooting of the Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, on the morning of July 22, 2005, said the dead man had been wearing a bulky jacket and appeared to be one of the terrorists who had tried to detonate backpacks laden with explosives on three subway trains and a bus.