By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
March 25, 2007
The U.S. military occupation of Iraq entered its fifth year Monday, prompting President Bush to appear on television seeking support for the mission to build a stable democracy in the Middle East. Bush said there are signs the increase of 30,000 additional troops has improved security in Baghdad. "The new strategy will need more time to take effect," the president said. More than 3,230 U.S. troops have died in Iraqi operations, which have cost taxpayers at least $400 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that most Americans oppose Bush's "war without end in Iraq."
House sets 2008 withdrawal date
The House narrowly approved a $124 billion spending bill Friday to fund Iraqi military operations while also calling for an end to combat before September 2008. The 218-212 vote put House Democrats in confrontation with President Bush over who has authority to wage war. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Americans "have lost faith in the president's conduct of this war." Bush angrily denounced the vote and promised to veto the legislation if it passes the Senate. "Today's action in the House does only one thing: it delays the delivering of vital resources for our troops," Bush said.
Iraq deputy prime minister injured in bombing
In a major breakdown in security, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was seriously wounded Friday in a suicide bombing near Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Police said the bomber detonated himself as al-Zubaie and others were leaving a mosque in the courtyard of his home. A nearby car bomb also detonated. Nine people were killed. On Thursday, a rocket exploded about 50 yards from where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were holding a news conference. Moments before the attack, the prime minister said Ki-moon's visit showed that the city is "on the road to stability."
Iran captures British sailors and marines
The Iranian navy Friday seized 15 British sailors and marines who had boarded a merchant ship in Iraqi waters of the Persian Gulf, prompting official demands in London for the return of the men and their vessels. The Britons were part of an international task force assigned to protect Iraqi oil terminals. Britain's Defense Ministry said the sailors were "engaged in routine boarding operations" of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters. Iranian officials said they captured the men because they were operating inside Iranian territorial waters.
Sanctions proposed for Iran
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed Thursday to proposed sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. A final vote is expected Saturday. The package would ban all arms exports from Iran, prohibit any weapons sales to the country and freeze the financial assets of 28 individuals and organizations who are involved in Iran's nuclear and long-range-missile programs.
North Korea breaks off nuclear talks
North Korean negotiators abruptly stopped six-nation talks in Beijing on Thursday over their country's nuclear program after demanding the release of frozen funds in a Macau bank. The break-off of negotiations means North Korea is unlikely to meet an April 14 deadline calling for U.N. inspectors to verify the shutdown of North Korea's main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, according to an agreement reached on Feb. 13. North Korea is demanding the return of $25 million frozen in Macau since 2005 at the request of the United States.
Elizabeth Edwards must battle cancer again
Elizabeth Edwards and her presidential-candidate husband, John Edwards, announced Thursday that she is battling incurable bone cancer but still will continue their race for the White House. "I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly," she told reporters. "I am as ready as any person can be for that." She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and received therapy considered successful at the time. But doctors found cancer present, again, after a biopsy of one of her ribs. She urged her husband to continue his campaign. "From our perspective, there was no reason to stop," John Edwards said.
Boy Scout found safe in North Carolina mountains
Boy Scout Michael Auberry, 12, was found safe Tuesday following a massive hunt in the North Carolina mountains. The youth had wandered away from his troop's campsite Saturday. A rescue dog picked up Michael's scent about a mile from camp and he was found, dehydrated and disoriented, but otherwise healthy. "He came through this in unbelievable fashion," said Michael's father, Kent Auberry. Authorities used bloodhounds, helicopters with heat-seeking search equipment and nearly 100 hikers in the search.
Griles pleads guilty in Abramoff scandal
Former Deputy Interior Secretary
J. Steven Griles pleaded guilty Friday to obstruction of justice,
becoming the highest-ranking member of the Bush administration
to be convicted in the Jack Abramoff public corruption scandal.
Griles admitted that he gave false testimony before the Senate
Indian Affairs Committee in 2005. Senators were investigating
Abramoff's lobbying efforts for Indian casino clients. Under
a plea agreement, federal prosecutors will seek no more than
a 10-month prison sentence.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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