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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:30 p.m., Monday, April 2, 2007

National & world news highlights

Associated Press

Senate majority leader may move to cut off war funds if White House rejects Iraq timeline

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday he will try to cut off funding for the Iraq war if President Bush rejects Congress' proposal to set a deadline for ending combat.

The move is likely to intensify the Democrats' rift with the administration, which already contends Democrats are putting troops at risk by setting deadlines.

"It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit," Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday at fundraising luncheon for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Also Monday, President Bush conferred by secure videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the pace of a nearly seven-week-old security crackdown. Extra troops from both countries are aiming to calm Baghdad and troubled Anbar Province, and some initial improvement has been reported.

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Bush's National Security Council, said the leaders agreed that the effort "must be carried out until lasting success can be achieved." Al-Maliki repeated his promise to pass legislation seen as key to moving Sunnis and Shiites from battling each other to political compromise.

Supreme Court rebukes Bush administration on greenhouse gas emissions

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration Monday for its inaction on global warming in a decision that could lead to more fuel-efficient cars as early as next year.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling in its first case on climate change, declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under the landmark environment law, and the "laundry list" of reasons it has given for declining to do so are insufficient, the court said.

"A reduction in domestic emissions would slow the pace of global emissions increases, no matter what happens elsewhere," Justice John Paul Stevens said in the majority opinion. "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change."

The politics of global warming have changed dramatically since the court agreed last year to hear its first case on the subject, with many Republicans as well as Democrats now pressing for action. However, the administration has argued for a voluntary approach rather than new regulation.

Iran, Britain seek way out of crisis over captured sailors; Iran says no trial needed

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran and Britain signaled possible movement toward ending the standoff over 15 detained British sailors Monday, with Tehran promising to stop airing video confessions and London saying it's willing to discuss ways to avoid boundary confusion in the Persian Gulf.

The quieter tone from both capitals raised hopes the 11-day standoff might be solved soon. But optimistic signs emerged before, only to be followed by a hardening of positions and tough rhetoric.

Iran's chief international negotiator, Ali Larijani, said his country wanted to resolve the crisis through diplomacy and added that he saw no need to put the crew on trial. He had suggested last week the captives might be tried for allegedly intruding into Iranian waters.

Iran's priority "is to solve the problem through proper diplomatic channels," Larijani told Britain's Channel 4 television news. "We are not interested in letting this issue get further complicated."

And he called for all involved to stop using "the language of force."

Truck bomber levels Iraqi police station in Kirkuk, killing 15 and wounding nearly 200

BAGHDAD — A suicide truck bomber, his deadly payload hidden under bags of flour, crashed into a police station in a Kurdish neighborhood in the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday. At least 15 people were killed, including a newborn girl and a U.S. soldier, and nearly 200 were wounded.

Several girls walking home from school were among those wounded in the bombing, a possible prelude to far greater violence to this oil-rich city 180 miles north of the capital. The attack came just days after the government adopted a plan to relocate thousands of Arabs who were moved to Kirkuk decades ago in Saddam Hussein's campaign to displace the Kurds.

Doctors worked in a scene of bloody pandemonium as wounded were brought to the emergency room. There was barely room to move. Many of those being treated appeared to be either very young children or schoolgirls, many crying with blood spattered on their clothes. Several badly mutilated dead bodies filled the back of a police pickup truck as a U.S. helicopter flew overhead.

Sarah Samad, 13, said she had just finished taking an exam and was near the school gate at the time of the explosion.

"The gate fell on my leg and broke it," she said from her hospital bed.

Ohio prisoner arrested after overpowering guard, holing up with hostage, police say

HILLIARD, Ohio — Police arrested a prison inmate at a house where he holed up Monday with a hostage after overpowering a guard in a hospital and fleeing with the guard's gun and uniform, authorities said.

Billy Jack Fitzmorris came peacefully out of a room in the suburban Columbus home, police said. Authorities did not say who the hostage was, and no one was injured.

Police led a man in a white shirt out of the house with his hands cuffed behind his back, and he was taken away in a van surrounded by police motorcycles.

Fitzmorris, 34, was believed to have escaped hours earlier on foot from St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. Police believe he robbed two banks in central Ohio before going into the house in Hilliard, about 150 miles southwest of Youngstown, Hilliard police Lt. Evert Lambert said.

Two hospital workers, the guard and three other prison officers were held briefly in a hospital room during the escape, but no one was injured, authorities said.

Justin Timberlake on gossip magazines: 'It's a spin game, and I choose not to take part in it'

NEW YORK — Justin Timberlake blames celebrity magazines for turning his personal life into juicy gossip fodder. "I despise what they do," the 26-year-old singer tells Details magazine in an interview in its April issue. "They create soap operas out of people's lives. ... It's a spin game, and I choose not to take part in it."

That includes not dishing any dirt about former girlfriends Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz.

"I would never say anything bad about anyone. I love a lot of those people," says Timberlake, whose latest album is "FutureSex/LoveSounds."

Diaz and Timberlake, who had dated since 2003, confirmed their split in January. Timberlake's relationship with Spears ended in 2002. They were a high-profile couple for three years.

Timberlake, a former member of boy band 'N Sync, released his debut solo album, "Justified," in 2002. The album won a Grammy Award.