BAGHDAD

Draft of Iraqi constitution distributed

Residents of one of Baghdad’s most insurgent-hit neighborhoods received copies of Iraq’s draft constitution Thursday, though some refused to take it and some shopkeepers balked at passing it out, fearing reprisals by militants determined to wreck the crucial Oct. 15 referendum.

Insurgents continued their wave of violence with attacks in and around the capital, including the suicide bombing of a minibus, that killed at least 20 Iraqis and an American soldier.

Despite the bloodshed, Iraqis in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora had their first look at the document they will vote on in nine days, though distribution of the U.N.-printed blue booklets – emblazoned “The constitution is in your hands” – got off to a slow start elsewhere.

“If we like it, we will vote ‘yes.’ If we don’t, we’ll say ‘no,'” said Lamia Dhyab, a Shiite woman in a head-to-toe veil.

She and other Dora residents got copies yesterday morning along with their monthly government-subsidized rations of rice, soap, cooking oil and other staples. The constitution is being distributed through the rationing system because some 80 percent of Iraqis have been enrolled in it since the days of U.N. sanctions against Saddam Hussein.

 

WASHINGTON

Rove to give testimony without immunity

Presidential confidant Karl Rove will testify for a fourth time before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer’s identity even though prosecutors have warned they can no longer guarantee he will escape indictment, lawyers said yesterday.

Rove’s offer was accepted by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the last week as the grand jury wraps up its work and decides whether Rove, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby or any other presidential aides should face criminal charges.

Rove’s lawyer said Thursday that Fitzgerald has assured him that he has made no decisions yet on charges and that his client has not received a so-called target letter, usually the last step before a grand jury indictment.

“I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel,” attorney Robert Luskin said. “The special counsel has confirmed that he has not made any charging decisions in respect to Karl.”

 

WASHINGTON

Cervical cancer vaccine shows promise in tests

An experimental vaccine to prevent the most common forms of cervical cancer proved 100 percent effective in a two-year test on more than 10,000 girls and women, drug maker Merck & Co. says.

Merck is hoping to win Food and Drug Administration approval for the vaccine, Gardasil, and put it on the market as soon as late 2006. It would be the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, a disease caused almost exclusively by a highly common sexually transmitted virus called the human papilloma virus, or HPV.

Doctors expect the vaccine to be routinely offered to girls – and boys, too, because they can spread the virus to their partners – before they become sexually active, though the practice is certain to run into opposition from conservatives and religious groups.

 

WASHINGTON

Bush to meet with bird flu vaccine makers

President Bush summoned vaccine manufacturers to a White House meeting Friday, hoping to personally boost the rickety industry amid increasing fears of a worldwide outbreak of bird flu. It’s the latest in a flurry of preparations for a possible pandemic after criticism of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

This month, vaccine maker Sanofi-Pasteur begins the first mass production of a new vaccine that promises to protect against bird flu, producing $100 million worth of inoculations for a government stockpile.

 

-Compiled from Daily wire reports.

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