U.S. commander attacked by rebels insurgent


The top U.S. commander in the Middle East came under a bold
attack yesterday by gunmen in the turbulent Iraqi city of Fallujah.
No Americans were hurt, but a local police official said two Iraqis
were killed in the shooting.

Also yesterday, a U.N. envoy told Iraq’s leading Shiite
cleric the world was 100 percent behind his demand for national
elections, but there was no sign of agreement on when a vote would
be held.

In Fallujah, residents said Iraqis died as U.S. troops sprayed
the area with gunfire after insurgents ambushed Gen. John
Abizaid’s convoy as it pulled into the headquarters of the
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in the Sunni Triangle city 50 miles west
of Baghdad.

Police said the car in which the slain Iraqis were riding was
riddled with bullet holes, apparently from a heavy-caliber machine

“We heard from a citizen that someone was killed in a
car,” Fallujah police Lt. Omar Ali said.


City-ordained gay marriages defy Calif. law


In an open challenge to California law, city authorities
performed at least 15 same-sex weddings yesterday and issued about
a dozen more marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

By midafternoon, jubilant gay couples were lining up under City
Hall’s ornate gold dome and exchanging vows in two-minute
ceremonies that followed one after another.

“Today a barrier to true justice has been removed,”
said Gavin Newsom, the newly elected mayor of the metropolis
considered the capital of gay America.

No state legally sanctions gay marriage, and it remains unclear
what practical value the marriage licenses will have.

The weddings violate a ballot measure California voters approved
in 2000 that defines marriage as a union between a man and a


Files connect Iran to nuclear black market

VIENNA, Austria

U.N. inspectors sifting through Iran’s nuclear files have
discovered drawings of high-tech equipment that can be used to make
weapons-grade uranium — a new link to the black market headed
by the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, diplomats said

Beyond adding another piece to the puzzle of who provided what
in the clandestine supply chain headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the
revelations cast fresh doubt on Iran’s commitment to
dispelling suspicions it is trying to make atomic arms. But Iran
insisted yesterday that it was cooperating.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the
designs were of a P-2 centrifuge — more advanced than the P-1
model Iran has acknowledged using to enrich uranium for what is
says are peaceful purposes.


Political groups raise $100M in soft money


In the first year of a new law broadly banning “soft
money” donations, political groups still managed to collect
more than $100 million in big checks from companies, unions and
wealthy individuals.

Among the largest recipients are new groups like America Coming
Together and the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, which want to help win the
White House for Democrats, and the Republican State Leadership
Committee, which is focusing on state and local races.

Such tax-exempt political groups began cropping up in larger
numbers after a law enacted by Congress in 2002 banned political
parties from accepting soft money donations as they had for two

Their biggest donors include people and companies who used to
write huge checks to political parties.


Militants halt rally against president


Militants crushed a rally against Haiti’s president before
it began yesterday, setting up flaming barricades along the route
of a protest march and hurling stones as demonstrators tried to
gather in the capital.

Opposition leaders accused President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of
orchestrating the suppression, but the United States said it was
standing by him as he confronts an armed rebellion affecting a
dozen provincial towns.

“The policy of the administration is not regime
change,” Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.S. Senate
Foreign Relations Committee.

“President Aristide is the elected president of
Haiti,” he said.

A week of violence has killed 49 people and blocked food and
fuel supplies to northern Haiti.


—Compiled from wire reports

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