There has been a large car bombing near the Iraqi city of Ramadi, killing at least 11 Iraqi policemen and wounding 14 other people including two U.S. Army soldiers. Meanwhile, five Iraqi women, four of whom worked for the U.S. military, were found shot dead in a bullet-ridden car in western Baghdad. It is believed the women worked as translators for the US Army.
A day after Iraqi commanders claimed a joint operation with US forces killed more than 80 resistance fighters at a training camp outside of Baghdad, reporters who visited the camp are contradicting that claim. Journalists from Agence France Press and other agencies say they saw 30 to 40 fighters at the lakeside training camp attacked by US and Iraqi forces the day before, claiming they had never left. One of the fighters said only 11 resistance fighters were killed in airstrikes on the site. Local hospitals told AFP they had received no casualties from the battle. Meanwhile, on the political front Shiite political leaders say the new parliament could convene for the second time ever early next week to nominate its speaker and the country’s president. The Shiite parties are expected to take 16 to 17 ministries in the new government.
Meanwhile, a group of prominent Iraqi lawyers said at a conference in Baghdad this week that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be tried as war criminals for the occupation of Iraq, highlighting the massive assaults on the city of Fallujah. They echoed earlier claims by an official from the US-backed Iraqi Health Ministry who charged that the US had used banned weapons against Fallujah. The lawyers called for establishing a truth commission to investigate US crimes in Iraq and demanded an end to what they called immunity for US occupation forces.
In Rome, journalist Giuliana Sgrena has been released from a military hospital where she was being treated for a gunshot wound she suffered when US forces shot up the car bringing her to freedom after a month being held hostage in Iraq. The head of Italy’s Foreign Military Intelligence Nicola Calipari was killed in the attack when he shielded Sgrena from the bullets. Yesterday, Italian newspapers reported that the justice minister has asked U.S. authorities to release the car so it can be examined by Italian ballistics experts. The papers said the request came after the U.S. command in Iraq reportedly blocked two Italian policemen from examining the car.
Now to the Terri Schiavo case. As she begins her seventh day without food or water, her parents are running out of legal options. A U.S. District Court judge is now deliberating the parents’ latest plea. The same federal judge earlier this week refused to order Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted. A four-hour hearing before the judge ended late Thursday, with no ruling announced. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, who is acting as a spokesman for Schiavo’s parents, said their new motion raises "evidentiary issues that were ignored in the first crack at federal court." But legal experts say it is unlikely to succeed. The U.S. Supreme Court declined yesterday to hear the case. The high court did not explain its decision to turn aside the case, just as it had declined to do in four previous appeals. None of the justices registered a dissent. That action was followed by rulings Thursday from a Pinellas County Circuit Judge who barred the state from trying to take custody of Schiavo and reaffirmed that she would not want to be kept alive through artificial means. Schiavo’s condition deteriorated visibly seven days after her feeding tube was removed by court order and death could come at any time.
Meanwhile, in Bush’s home state of Texas, a columnist for The Star Telegram newspaper has revealed that as governor, Bush’s position on cases like Terri Schiavo’s was diametrically opposed to the one he is now advocating. As governor, Bush signed a Texas law in 1999 that allows a person’s next of kin to make decisions regarding life support for patients whose conditions have been judged hopeless by a physician and a hospital’s bioethics committee. The column by Bob Ray Sanders is called "Bush Willing to Err on Side of Death in Texas." It says there are 152 reasons why President Bush’s statements and actions regarding the Terri Schiavo case don’t make sense. That is the number of people executed in Texas during Bush’s tenure as governor.
President Bush’s approval rating has fallen to 45%, the lowest point of his presidency. This according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll. It found the largest drop for Bush came among men, self-described conservatives and churchgoers. Independent political analysts said the drop may reflect opposition to the White House and Congress intervening in the Terri Schiavo matter. A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll last weekend found that 61% would have a spouse’s feeding tube removed under similar circumstances.
This news on the genocide in Sudan. The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to authorize a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force for the south of the country. The official mission of the peacekeepers will be to monitor the agreement signed between the government and southern rebels. Here is the UN Under Secretary -General for Peacekeeping, Jean Marie Guehenno: "It is clear that the present state of affairs in Darfur is unacceptable, it’s problems are immediate and we can not accept the status quo, the violence and destruction must stop, impunity must end." The UN estimates it could take months before the force is deployed.
US War resister Jeremy Hinzman lost his bid yesterday for political asylum in Canada after the country’s Immigration and Refugee Board said it was unconvinced he faces persecution if he returns home to the United States. Hinzman drew international attention after he deserted the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C., 14 months ago and fled to Toronto, just days before his unit was deployed to Iraq. At his three-day refugee hearing in December, he contended that if he killed or injured anyone in Iraq his actions would amount to atrocities because the conflict was illegal, and hence criminal. His case now goes to a Canadian court.