BAGHDAD

Iraqi gov’t seeks compensation from U.S. for killings

Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed when the firm’s guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.

The demands – part of an Iraqi government report – also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square – which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.

LONDON

Britain to halve number of troops in Iraq by spring

Britain will halve its remaining troop contingent in Iraq next spring, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced yesterday. A British official later said they could not guarantee that any troops would remain in Iraq by the end of 2008.

Brown, under fire over his decision not to call an election for this year, said Britain would lower troop levels to 2,500 by mid-2008 and redeploy logistics staff to neighboring states. The British leader was clearly hoping the announcement would help boost his popularity among a public weary of the war.

CRANDON, Wis.

Shooter had prior relationship with victim

An off-duty sheriff’s deputy who killed six young people fired 30 rounds of ammunition after he burst into a home where friends had gathered, investigators said yesterday.

Tyler Peterson, 20, who later died after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement officers, had been in a relationship with one of the victims, authorities said at a news conference.

“They were in a relationship for a few years,” said Police Chief John Dennee. “They had broken up and gone back and forth.”

The rampage raised questions among residents of the remote northern Wisconsin community about how Peterson could have met requirements to become a law enforcement officer. No psychological testing was performed, but he had undergone other background checks and completed all required training by the state.

WASHINGTON

Edwards, Dems won’t get SEIU endorsement

None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get the endorsement they’ve been fervently seeking from the Service Employees International Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

The union said yesterday it won’t choose a national candidate for the primary elections, underscoring divisions that had been apparent among SEIU supporters of Edwards and the Democrats he trails in national polls: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The union will instead let its locals make decisions state by state.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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