Baghdad

With violence rising, Iraqi prime minister issues ultimatum

Iraq’s prime minister warned gunmen in the oil port of Basra to surrender their weapons by Friday or face harsher measures, as clashes between security forces and Shiite militia fighters spread throughout the south and in Baghdad.

Despite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ultimatum yesterday, government troops in Basra were having trouble making inroads into neighborhoods that the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army has controlled for years. Residents spoke of militiamen using mortar shells, sniper fire, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades to fight off security forces.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, remained in Basra to supervise a crackdown against the spiraling violence between militia factions vying for control of the center of Iraq’s vast oil industry, located near the Iranian border.

LANSING

Senate proposes K-12 funding boost

The state Senate has passed a spending plan for K-12 public schools.

Schools would get $71 to $142 more per student, with lower-funded districts getting more and higher-funded schools getting a lower increase.

Governor Jennifer Granholm proposes increasing state aid between $108 to $216 per student, but the Senate is worried tax revenues will come in lower than expected.

Republicans who control the Senate on Wednesday rejected Democrats’ attempts to create small high schools in districts with failing students.

The GOP instead supported giving every district another $20 per student to spend on buildings.

The K-12 budget bill heads to the Democratic-led House.

Lawmakers hope to finish the state budget by July.

Beijing

Chinese officials decry U.S. delivery of fuses to Taiwan

China strongly protested to the United States yesterday over the mistaken delivery of fuses for long-range missiles to Taiwan, the latest incident involving arms sales to the island to roil relations between Beijing and Washington.

In a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site, spokesman Qin Gang said China sent a protest to Washington expressing “strong displeasure.”

“We … demand the U.S. side thoroughly investigate this matter, and report to China in a timely matter the details of the situation and eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences created by this incident,” Qin said “We … demand the U.S. side thoroughly investigate this matter, and report to China in a timely matter the details of the situation and eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences created by this incident,” Qin said.

Charlotte, N.c.

Report: Pilot fired gun in cockpit by mistake

A US Airways pilot whose gun fired inside a cockpit said he was trying to stow the weapon as the crew got ready to land, according to a police report obtained yesterday.

The pilot didn’t tell air traffic control about the shooting or say the bullet had punctured the cockpit until after the plane landed safely at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, the report said. Photos obtained by The Associated Press show a small exit hole on the plane’s exterior below the cockpit window.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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