BAGHDAD

U.S. military kills 49 in raid

The U.S. military said its forces killed an estimated 49 militants during yesterday’s dawn raid to capture an Iranian-linked militia chief in Baghdad’s Sadr City enclave, one of the highest tolls for a single operation since President Bush declared an end to active combat in 2003.

Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said all the dead were civilians.

Al-Dabbagh said on CNN that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, had met with the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, to protest the action.’

HAVANA

Cuba to begin election process for first time since 1959

Cubans opened an election cycle yesterday that will lead to a decision next year on whether ailing leader Fidel Castro will remain atop the communist-run island’s supreme governing body.

The nationwide municipal voting marked the start of a multitiered process that culminates with parliamentary elections next spring. Lawmakers could then decide to officially replace Castro, 81, with his younger brother Raul as head of the 31-member Council of State.

The elder Castro has been the island’s unchallenged leader since his revolution toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. But he has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgeries and ceding power to a provisional government headed by his brother in July 2006.

LEESBURG, Va.

Cheney vows to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran

The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday.

“Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions,” Cheney said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

He said Iran’s efforts to pursue technology that would allow them to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that “the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time.”

“We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

KENNER, La.

New Louisiana governor pledges an end to corruption

In a state known for its brash politicians, Bobby Jindal’s methodical, wonkish style is strikingly different – and his first plan of attack as Louisiana’s governor-elect strikes at the heart of the state’s reputation for cronyism and corruption.

The Republican congressman, a day after his historic win in a field of a dozen candidates for governor, pressed ahead with his campaign pledge to clean up the state’s image. He said one of his first acts will be to call a special legislative session to reform ethics laws.

“If I go down as one of the more boring but effective governors, I’ll take that as a great compliment,” Jindal said at a news conference yesterday. “Our people don’t want to be amused by our politics anymore. We don’t want to be entertained.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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