Posted at 1:25 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, 2007
National & world news highlights
Associated PressIRAN SHOW VIDEO OF CAPTURED BRITISH SAILORS
TEHRAN, Iran Iran aired a video Wednesday of 15 captured British sailors and marines, showing the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters. Britain angrily denounced the video as a "completely unacceptable" display of prisoners.
The Iranian foreign minister suggested the woman, sailor Faye Turney, could be released soon. But British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government announced it was freezing all dealings with Iran except to negotiate the release of its personnel, adding to a public exchange of sharp comments that pushed up tensions in a standoff helping fuel a spike in world oil prices.
Britain's military released a GPS readout it said proved the Royal Navy personnel were seized 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters Friday. But Iranian state television quoted an unidentified Iranian official as saying the first phase of an investigation had determined the two British boat crews were "definitely" in Iran's territorial waters.
A few hours later, a brief video of the captured Britons was shown on Iran's Arabic language satellite television station, Al-Alam.
One segment showed sailors and marines sitting in an Iranian boat in open waters immediately after their capture.
ATTACK AGAINST SUNNIS KILLS 70 IN IRAQ
BAGHDAD Shiite militants and police enraged by deadly truck bombings went on a shooting rampage against Sunnis in a northwestern Iraqi city Wednesday, killing as many as 70 men execution-style and prompting fears that sectarian violence was spreading outside the capital.
The killings occurred in the mixed Shiite-Sunni city Tal Afar, which had been an insurgent stronghold until an offensive by U.S. and Iraqi troops in September 2005, when militants fled into the countryside without a fight. Last March, President Bush cited the operation as an example that gave him "confidence in our strategy."
The gunmen roamed Sunni neighborhoods in Tal Afar through the night, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician. Witnesses said relatives of the Shiite victims in the truck bombings broke into Sunni homes and killed the men inside or dragged them out and shot them in the streets.
Gen. Khourshid al-Douski, the Iraqi army commander in charge of the area, said 70 were shot in the back of the head and 40 people were kidnapped. A senior hospital official in Tal Afar, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said 45 men were killed.
Outraged Sunni groups blamed Shiite-led security forces for the killings. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office ordered an investigation and the U.S. command offered to provide assistance.
VETO SHOWDOWN ON IRAQ EVIDENT
WASHINGTON President Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress lurched toward a veto showdown over Iraq on Wednesday, the commander in chief demanding a replenishment of war funding with no strings and Speaker Nancy Pelosi counseling him, "Calm down with the threats."
Bush said imposition of a "specific and random date of withdrawal would be disastrous" for U.S. troops in Iraq and he predicted that lawmakers would take the blame if the money ran short.
"The clock is ticking for our troops in the field," he said. "If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible."
Bush spoke as the Senate moved toward passage of legislation that would require the beginning of a troop withdrawal within 120 days, and would set a goal of March 31, 2008, for its completion.
The House approved a more sweeping measure last week, including a mandatory withdrawal deadline for nearly all combat troops of Sept. 1, 2008.
LAWMAKERS STAND FIRM ON ROVE TESTIMONY
WASHINGTON Lawmakers prodded the White House Wednesday for a new answer on whether President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, will testify about the firings of federal prosecutors.
"We have not heard from you," Patrick Leahy of Vermont and John Conyers of Michigan, the Senate and House Judiciary committees' chairmen, wrote to President Bush's counsel, Fred Fielding.
The White House has indicated no willingness to move beyond Bush's initial offer to let Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies to speak to committee members, but only in private, without being sworn and off the record.
Those terms particularly Fielding's insistence on there being no transcript have been dismissed by lawmakers.
"We hope that you will reconsider your 'all or nothing' approach," Leahy and Conyers said.
U.S. ENDS MILITARY EXERCISES IN GULF
ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS The United States wrapped up a massive military exercise in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, putting on a show of strength for Iran even as the United Arab Emirates became the second Gulf nation to declare it would not take part in any attack on the Islamic Republic.
The U.S. has denied any intention to attack. But the public refusals of two allies to help could affect U.S. military options or require shifting of resources if tensions did seriously escalate.
Qatar home to 6,500 U.S. troops and the enormous al-Udeid Air Base, headquarters of all American air operations in the Middle East said earlier this month it would not permit an attack on Iran from its soil.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose alliance of Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Emirates, has called on all its members not to support any U.S. action against Iran.
The United States has close to 40,000 troops in the Gulf, including 25,000 in Kuwait, 3,000 in Bahrain, 1,300 in the United Arab Emirates and a few hundred in Oman and Saudi Arabia, according to figures from the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.
The Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG-77) is part of the USS John C. Stennis.
COVER REVEALED FOR FINAL HARRY POTTER BOOK
NEW YORK The cover of the seventh and final Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," features a dramatic gold-and-orange sky and a teenage boy in eyeglasses reaching upward.
As always, the cover was designed by illustrator Mary GrandPre, U.S. publisher Scholastic Inc. announced Wednesday.
"The structures around Harry show evident destruction and in the shadows behind him, we see outlines of other people," David Saylor, Scholastic's art director, said in a statement.
"For the first time, the cover is a wraparound. On the back cover, spidery hands are outstretched toward Harry. Only when the book is opened does one see a powerful image of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his glowing red eyes peering out from his hood."
J.K. Rowling's fantasy series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide. "Deathly Hallows," to be released July 21, has an announced first printing of 12 million in the United States.