Sadr Movement Quits Iraq Government over U.S. Withdrawal

The movement of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has withdrawn from the Iraqi government to press its demand for a withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Sadr movement controls six cabinet posts and a quarter of the parliamentary seats in Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s Shiite Alliance. The pullout follows one of Iraq’s bloodiest weekends in months. McClatchy newspapers is reporting nearly 300 people were killed in violence around Iraq Saturday. Thirty-six died in a car bomb attack in Karbala. The explosion tore through a busy marketplace, leaving scores of bodies and wounding more than 160 people.

More than 18,000 Held in U.S. Jails in Iraq

Meanwhile the number of prisoners in U.S. jails in Iraq has now reached 18,000. More than one thousand have been jailed in the past month. The average stay in prison is now at one year with more than eight-thousand staying for longer.

AP Photographer Passes Year-Mark in Jail

Among the prisoners is the Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein. He’s now spent more than a year in a jail. The U.S. military has held him without charge.

Study: 70% of Baghdad Children Suffering Trauma

In other Iraq news, a new study from Iraq’s health ministry has found close to seventy percent of Baghdad school children are showing symptoms of trauma-related stress. The symptoms include stuttering and bed-wetting. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported last week many Iraqi children are forced to pass dead bodies on the street as they walk to school.

U.S. Bars Iraqi Doctor from Delivering Lecture

A leading Iraqi doctor who co-authored a study on Iraq’s death toll since the US invasion has been barred from entering the United States. Riyadh Lafta was set to give a talk at the University of Washington on the growing rise in cancer rates among Iraqi children. U.S. immigration officials ignored Lafta’s visa request a half-dozen times before finally turning him down. Lafta will still make the speech — he’s been invited to speak at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

Group Claims Killing of Kidnapped BBC Reporter

In the Gaza Strip, a previously unknown Palestinian group is claiming to have executed the kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. Johnston has been missing for over a month. The group calls itself the Tawhid and Jihad Brigade. Its claim could not be verified. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat: "… I hope that Mr. Johnston is alive and I think, as I said the last thing Palestinian people need at this hour, difficulty, at this overload of complexities is to see such despicable acts of abducting foreign journalists and others continue this is the only thing that this is doing is destroying us as Palestinians, destroying the just cause of the Palestinian people."

Video Reveals Israeli Soldiers Use Palestinians as Human Shields

Meanwhile, the Israeli army has suspended a military commander following the release of video showing his soldiers using Palestinians as human shields. The incident took place in the West Bank city of Nablus last week. The video was taken by Sam Neil of the Research Journalism Initiative.

World Bank Expresses “Grave Concern” in Wolfowitz Rebuke

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has suffered a new setback in his fight to keep his job. On Sunday, the World Bank’s top oversight committee endorsed a statement saying it had "grave concern" about the bank’s credibility and morale. Wolfowitz was found to have ordered a major pay increase and promotion for his longtime companion, Shaha Riza. The World Bank’s staff association has already called for Wolfowitz to step down. The oversight committee consists of dozens of world finance ministers and leaders of other international organizations. In response, Wolfowitz held a news conference Sunday and vowed to stay on. Paul Wolfowitz: "The board is looking at it. I’m not going to pre-empt what they are doing by discussing it with you here."

Venezuela Pays off World Bank-IMF Debt

Venezelua has announced its paid off its remaining debt to the World Bank and International Monterary Fund. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "Today, with the last payment that debt that had been almost $3 billion since 1998. We also had a large debt with the IMF. Venezuela was hand tied. I can tell you today, that we don’t owe a cent of debt to either the IMF or the World Bank."

Venezuela Marks 5-Years Since Coup

Chavez made the announcement as Venezuela marked the fifth anniversary of his return to office after a failed coup. Thousands of people took the streets of Caracas. Government supporter Josefina Penalver: "Today, this march is a celebration. It’s not a commemoration but a celebration of the return of the constitutional course, of the people who took to the streets, the revolt of a people who took to the streets for their constitutional course to be restored to them, to look for their hope which is President Chavez."

Student Loan Database Used for Marketing Data

In privacy news, the Education Department is considering shutting down a national database of student borrowers following the disclosure several lending companies may have improperly used it for marketing information. The database contains more than sixty-million records including social security numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.

Report: New Mexico Attorney Fired Following Complaint to White House

New developments in the attorney firings controversy — The Albuquerque Journal is reporting former U.S. attorney David Iglesias was fired after Republican Senator Pete Domenici made a direct appeal to the White House. Domenici reportedly complained directly to President Bush after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told him only the president could authorize a dismissal.

Gonzales: “May Be Limited” in Recalling Attorney Discussions

The news comes as Gonzales is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. In an opening statement released in advance, Gonzales says he has "nothing to hide." But Gonzales indicates he may not be able to provide definite answers on the extent of his role in the firings. Gonzales says he deliberately did not review transcripts of his own meetings so as not to influence his testimony. He continues: "As a result, I may be somewhat limited when it comes to providing you with all of the facts that you may desire."

Ex-Generals Call on U.S. to Curb Greenhouse Gas

And finally, a group of former U.S. military leaders are calling on the Bush administration to cut emissions of greenhouse gas. In a new report, eleven retired generals and admirals say the US should reverse its opposition to global treaties regulating emission levels. The authors include former-Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan and former Central Command commander Anthony Zinni.

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