U.S. asks for block on abuse photos

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration asked a federal appeals court yesterday to halt the release of disturbing images of detainee abuse, saying the photos could incite violence in Pakistan as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The court papers filed in New York cite two partially secret statements from two top U.S. generals, David Petraeus and Ray Odierno. Such arguments failed to sway the court in the past. In the new filings, Petraeus, who oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, said the images could also lead to more violence in Pakistan because it deals with Taliban attacks.

The administration had planned to release the photos until President Obama reversed the decision this month, saying their release would endanger U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also yesterday, the Pentagon denied a British newspaper report that some of the images showed U.S. personnel sexually assaulting detainees. - AP

GOP unleashes ads against Pelosi

WASHINGTON - Republicans began unleashing television and radio ads yesterday, as well as robo-calls, aimed at discrediting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in congressional districts held by Democrats whom they see as vulnerable.

The effort is the latest signal that despite Pelosi's insistence that she has no more to say about her May 14 assertion that in 2002 the CIA misled her and Congress on torture policy, the political firestorm it created continues to smolder.

The latest GOP effort includes a TV ad titled "Explanation: Impossible," and 32-second recorded calls with a woman telling listeners she had an "important voter alert" about how the local member of Congress "voted to block an investigation" into Pelosi's comments. - McClatchy Newspapers

Neb. law to alter execution method

LINCOLN, Neb. - Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill yesterday to change Nebraska's method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection, though observers said it could be years before the law is applied.

Nebraska was the only state with electrocution as its sole means of execution. But in February 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled that the electric chair amounted to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

The bill Heineman signed drew opposition from State Sens. Brenda Council and Danielle Nantkes in earlier debate. Nantkes predicted "significant litigation" and said she did not think the bill did enough to spell out how executions would be performed and who would carry them out. The state's last execution was in 1997. - AP

Elsewhere:

President Obama warned yesterday that if Congress did not deliver health-care legislation by the end of the year, the opportunity would be lost, a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act.

Sen. Roland Burris (D., Ill.) said yesterday that he did not mislead lawmakers investigating his Senate appointment, because they failed to "follow up with the questions" that could have revealed a conversation he had in November about fund-raising for former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.