Iraqi civilians rally against British

Hundreds of Iraqi civilians and policemen, some waving pistols and AK-47s, rallied in the southern city of Basra yesterday to denounce “British aggression” in the rescue of two British soldiers.

The Basra governor threatened to end all cooperation with British forces unless Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government apologizes for the deadly clash with Iraqi police. Britain defended the raid.

In London, British Defense Secretary John Reid and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari tried to minimize the effect of the fighting, saying it would not undermine the relationship between the two nations or their determination to lead Iraq to peace and democracy.

But the fighting raised new concerns about the power that radical Shiite militias with close ties to Iran have developed in the region, questions about the role of Britain’s 8,500-strong force in Iraq and doubts about the timetable for handing over power to local security forces.

There has been disagreement about just what happened late Monday, when British armor crashed into a jail to free two British soldiers who had been arrested by Iraqi police.



Roberts gains support from Senate Dems

Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts, his confirmation secure, picked up support from fractured Senate Democrats yesterday as President Bush met lawmakers to discuss a second vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, announced his endorsement shortly after leaving the White House. That guaranteed bipartisan backing for Roberts in today’s scheduled vote by the committee.

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, liberal stalwart Edward Kennedy, former presidential candidate John Kerry and New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine all are opposing Roberts. Their stand is evidence of the split among the Senate’s 44 Democrats about whether they can or should mount even symbolic opposition to the successor of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Because Republicans control the Senate and the committee, majority support was assured for the vote and for confirmation next week in the full Senate.

Some of the Democrats’ liberal supporters hoped a strong vote against Roberts would signal to Bush that if he were to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with a far-right conservative, it would lead to a bigger fight in the Senate.



European Union extends reprieve to Iran

Iran gained a reprieve in the standoff over its nuclear program yesterday, with diplomats saying the European Union had decided to postpone its push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

The decision to delay a vote until a later board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency instead of demanding one this week appeared driven by concerns about strong opposition.

More than a dozen of the 35 IAEA board member nations meeting in Vienna – including Security Council members Russia and China – are against the idea.



Immigrant accused of funneling money

A Yemeni immigrant ice cream shop owner was found guilty yesterday of illegally funneling $21.9 million overseas in a case stemming from a major terrorism investigation.

Abad Elfgeeh, 50, was accused of transmitting money around the world without a license from bank accounts linked to his tiny storefront in Brooklyn.

Elfgeeh was not charged with any terrorism-related crime, although prosecutors said his business was used by a Yemeni cleric convicted earlier this year of a scheme to fund al-Qaida and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.


– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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