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macon.com MIDDAY UPDATE: Israel's defense minister says Olmert must step aside; gut superbug causing more illnesses, deaths; Democratic Party lawyers: Fla., Mich. can’t be fully restored

Israel’s defense minister said Wednesday he would use his considerable power to topple the fragile coalition government if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not step aside to face corruption allegations.

The tough ultimatum by Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and now leader of the Labor Party, increased the growing pressure on Olmert to resign in the wake of a U.S. businessman’s court testimony that painted Olmert as a money-hungry politician.

Olmert has denied any wrongdoing and said he would resign only if he is indicted.

At a news conference, Barak said that in light of the criminal investigation, he did not think Olmert could focus on peace efforts and the country’s pressing security needs.

Barak said Olmert could suspend himself, resign or even go on vacation. He promised to cooperate with a new leader from Olmert’s Kadima Party, but vowed to force new elections if Olmert doesn’t step aside.

‘‘If Kadima doesn’t act and this parliament doesn’t see another government that is to our liking, we will act to set an agreed-upon date for early elections,’’ he said. He said the date would be ‘‘soon.’’ Although Barak stopped short of setting a firm deadline, his comments made it extremely difficult for Olmert to stay in power. If Labor withdraws from the coalition, Olmert would lose his parliamentary majority and the country would be forced to hold new elections.

– Associated Press

Gut superbug causing more illnesses, deaths

The number of people hospitalized with a dangerous intestinal superbug has been growing by more than 10,000 cases a year, according to a new study.

The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.

The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. But the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.

C-diff, as it’s known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes. This virulent strain of C-diff was rarely seen before 2000.

‘‘The nature of this infection is changing. It’s more severe,’’ said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert who was not part of the study.

– Associated Press

Democratic Party lawyers: Fla., Mich. can’t be fully restored

A Democratic Party rules committee has the authority to seat some delegates from Michigan and Florida but not fully restore the two states as Hillary Rodham Clinton wants, according to party lawyers.

Democratic National Committee rules require that the two states lose at least half of their convention delegates for holding elections too early, the party’s legal experts wrote in a 38-page memo.

The memo was sent late Tuesday to the 30 members of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which plans to meet Saturday at a Washington hotel. The committee is considering ways to include the two important general election battlegrounds at the nominating convention in August, and the staff analysis says seating half the delegates is ‘‘as far as it legally can’’ go.

The DNC analysis does not make recommendations for how the Rules and Bylaws Committee should vote, but gives context from the party’s charter and bylaws for the committee to consider.

The analysis said there are two options to include half the delegations — either allow half the number of delegates from each state into the convention or allow the full delegations to attend, but give them each half a vote. ‘‘The rule does not actually specify whether the reduction is to be accomplished on the basis of delegate positions or delegate votes,’’ the analysis said, giving committee members some justification for sending the entire delegations with half-votes as some leaders in the states want.

– Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

— Telegraph staff writer Gene Rector will recap a historic, poignant moment as the storied 19th Air Refueling Group furls the flag representing a unit that started before there was even an Air Force, and rumbles down the flightline at Robins Air Force Base for the last time.

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