KARACHI, PAKISTAN

Blast near former PM Bhutto’s convoy kills 108

Two bombs exploded last night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her triumphant return to Pakistan after eight years in exile, killing at least 108 people and wounding 150, an official said. Party workers and police said Bhutto was unhurt.
Associated Press photographer B.K. Bangash at the scene said he saw between 50 and 60 dead or badly injured people. He said some of the bodies were ripped apart.
An initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the front of the truck carrying Bhutto during a procession through Karachi. The blast shattered windows in her vehicle and set a police escort vehicle on fire.
Bhutto, is expected to seek the premiership for an unprecedented third time and partner in ruling Pakistan with U.S.-backed President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

WASHINGTON

House fails to overturn Bush S-CHIP veto

The Democratic-controlled House failed yesterday to override President Bush’s veto of a politically popular children’s health bill, and the White House instantly called for compromise talks on a replacement.
“As long as the bottom line is that 10 million children are covered. That’s non-negotiable,” responded Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) She pledged that new legislation would be ready within two weeks, and within hours, key lawmakers met to consider changes in the vetoed measure.
The maneuvering followed a 273-156 vote that left supporters 13 short of the two-thirds majority needed to prevail in a bruising veto struggle between congressional Democrats and a politically weakened Republican president.

BAGHDAD

Iraq leaders grapple over executions of ex-Hussein officials

Iraq’s leaders grappled yesterday over carrying out executions ordered for three former Saddam Hussein regime heavyweights, including the notorious enforcer known as “Chemical Ali.” Sunni leaders pressed to delay the hangings, warning they could incite sectarian violence and derail government work on national reconciliation.
The death sentences against Saddam’s cousin “Chemical Ali” al-Majid, Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, former deputy operations director of the Iraqi armed forces, were upheld on appeal early last month. The hangings were to occur within 30 days, but were put off until the end of the Ramadan month of fasting, which ended at mid-month.

WASHINGTON

Mukasey won’t say if waterboarding is torture

Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey refused to say yesterday whether he considers waterboarding a form of torture, frustrating Democrats and potentially slowing his confirmation to head the Justice Department.
In an increasingly testy second day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mukasey also said he is reluctant to support legislation protecting reporters from being forced by courts to reveal their sources.

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