BAGHDAD, Iraq

American pleads for his life on video

An American hostage pleaded for his life with a rifle pointed at his head in a video released yesterday, while nine Iraqis, including a senior judge, were killed in a series of attacks that highlighted the security risks ahead of this weekend’s elections.

On a day that the U.S. military said six American soldiers had died, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also said the time was not right to talk of a U.S. troop withdrawal. Iraq must first build up its security forces to confront the insurgents, Allawi said.

In the video, hostage Roy Hallums spoke slowly, rubbing his hands as he sat with the barrel of the rifle inches from his head. He said he had been arrested by a “resistance group” because “I have worked with American forces.” He appealed to Arab leaders, including Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, to save his life.

 

STRASBOURG, France

Yushchenko pushes for EU membership

New Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told Europe’s top human rights body yesterday that his nation would push through democratic reforms to prepare itself for a bid to gain membership in the European Union.

Yushchenko began his push for closer ties to the West by declaring, “We see ourselves as Europeans.” He added that European Union strategy has to include the prospect of Ukraine membership.

“Inside the country, we are going to reorganize the government so the process of integration into the EU becomes a real one,” Yushchenko told legislators from the 46-nation Council of Europe.

“One cannot open European doors with rhetoric but with performance. That is what my government will do,” he said.

Even though the EU has excluded so far possible membership for Ukraine, Yushchenko insisted the strategy of the 25-nation bloc “has to comprise the membership prospect.”

He called EU membership “a simple formula for well-being and security.”

 

NOGALES, Arizona

New technology to help border security

U.S. officials want to see if the same technology that speeds cars through highway tolls and identifies lost pets can unclog border crossings without compromising security.

Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson announced Yesterday that the government will begin testing radio frequency identification technology at this crossing and four others by midsummer.

Weeding out potential terrorists, drug dealers and other criminals from shoppers, truckers and tourists who regularly pass through border crossings takes time. The RFID technology is designed to reduce the wait while giving authorities more information on who’s coming into the country and who’s leaving.

 

WASHINGTON

More students pass Advanced Placement tests

In every state and the District of Columbia, more students are passing at least one Advanced Placement test, a sign of progress in a nation eager to improve college preparation, the College Board reported yesterday.

Significant gaps remain, however, as AP participation booms nationwide, according to the first state-by-state report in the 50-year history of the college-level testing program. Many students enter college without having passed an AP test, and black students have distinct challenges, with low test participation and test scores a level behind those of whites.

Across the country, 13.2 percent of the high school class of 2004 demonstrated mastery of at least one AP course, up from 10.2 percent from the 2000 class.

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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