WASHINGTON

Senate passes bill protecting fetuses

The Senate voted yesterday to make it a separate crime to harm a
fetus during the commission of a violent federal crime, a victory
for those seeking to expand the legal rights of the unborn. The 61
to 38 vote on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act sends the
legislation, after a five-year battle in Congress, to President
Bush for his signature. The White House said in a statement that it
“strongly supports protection for unborn children.” The
House passed the bill last month.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) said the bill was
“powerful because this act is about simple humanity, about
simple reality.”

But abortion rights lawmakers contended that giving a fetus,
from the point of conception, the same legal rights as its mother
sets a precedent that could be used in future legal challenges to
abortion rights. It was the second big win for social conservatives
pushing protections for the unborn following enactment of the
so-called partial birth abortion ban last year. That ban is now
tied up in the courts.

The Senate cleared the way for passage with a 50 to 49 vote to
defeat an amendment, backed by opponents of the bill, that would
have increased penalties but maintained that an attack on a
pregnant woman was a single-victim crime.

 

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast

Government slowly crumbles in Ivory Coast

Rebels and the main opposition party pulled out of Ivory
Coast’s power-sharing government yesterday after 25 people
died in deadly clashes between security forces and opposition
supporters, who marched in defiance of a government ban.

The street skirmishes were the bloodiest to hit this West
African nation’s commercial capital since a failed September
2002 coup bid split the country in two.

Among the dead were two police and 12 civilians killed by
protesters armed with machetes, Abidjan Police Chief Yapo Kouassi
told reporters. Security forces struggling to maintain order shot
dead several others, he said, giving no details.

Amid the violence, Air France suspended flights to the country,
and the French Foreign Ministry called on all parties to show
restraint. There are about 4,000 French soldiers in the Ivory
Coast.

The events dealt a serious blow to the January 2003 peace deal
brokered by France that established a power-sharing government.

“We have suspended our participation in the government to
protest against today’s killings,” rebel spokesman
Alain Lobognon said.

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti

Many Haitians still lacking food, water

Aid workers face a dizzying array of problems as they struggle
to help hundreds of thousands people forgotten in the heartland of
Haiti’s uprising, where rebels hold sway and some families
have not eaten for weeks.

Babies are starving. There’s no drinking water,
electricity or health care.

“Sometimes you’re just left to die,” said
Idoja George, 38, who lives in a sewage-flooded slum crawling with
maggots.

Poor security makes the task of helping the needy even more
arduous.

“It’s frustrating to know you have so many people to
help in a situation that is uncertain and security that is
tentative at best,” said Ilana Benady, a spokeswoman for
London-based Oxfam. The charity is working to supply water to
several communities in northern Haiti.

 

CAIRO, Egypt

Al-Qaida tape calls for Pakistani revolt

A tape purportedly recorded by Ayman al-Zawahri, the No. 2
figure in the al-Qaida terror group, called Pakistani President
Pervez Musharraf a “traitor” yesterday and urged people
to overthrow his government.

The pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a
seven-minute excerpt from a tape it received yesterday.

Its authenticity could not immediately be verified, but the
speaker sounded like al-Zawahri and made references to the Islamic
holy book, the Quran, which is known to be al-Zawahri’s
style.

The speaker also called for a military uprising in Pakistan.

 

FBI director warns of Olympic attacks

Emboldened by their deadly success in Spain, terrorists could
attempt to influence the U.S. election and shock the world by
launching attacks during this year’s presidential nominating
conventions or at the Olympics in Greece, FBI Director Robert
Mueller said yesterday.

“We understand that between now and the election, there is
a window of time in which terrorists may well wish to influence
events, whether it’s in the United States or overseas,”
Mueller said.

He also said that Islamic extremists are changing tactics to
focus on recruitment of local sympathizers less likely to arouse
suspicion than outsiders.

And terrorist groups may well move away from fortified targets,
such as airports and government buildings, he said.

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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