Violence continues to escalate in Basra

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged “no retreat” yesterday in the fight against Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra, as thousands of protesters demanded he resign over the crackdown and extremists fired rockets into the U.S.-protected Green Zone.

Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr called yesterday for a political solution to the burgeoning crisis and an end to the “shedding of Iraqi blood.” But the statement, released by a close aide, stopped short of ordering his Mahdi Army militia to halt attacks on the Green Zone or stop fighting in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city.

In a sign of the deteriorating security, gunmen in Baghdad seized a high-profile government spokesman from his home in a Shiite neighborhood, killing three of his bodyguards and torching his house. In a bid to curb the violence, Iraq’s military ordered vehicles and pedestrians off the streets of the capital until Sunday morning.


Senate passes green energy initiative for state buildings

The Michigan Senate voted yesterday to make state government use more green energy but didn’t ask the same of residents and businesses because of Republicans’ worries that renewable power costs too much.

Legislation approved unanimously would require that 10 percent of electricity in state buildings come from wind, solar or other renewable sources by 2010. The standard would rise to 25 percent by 2025, though the government could avoid mandates if it turns out the cost of renewable energy is more than 5 percent higher than traditional power.

Sen. Patricia Birkholz, a Saugatuck Republican and sponsor of the bill, said it would help Michigan make progress on the renewable issue “without putting a strict mandate on the people.”

Columbus, Ga.

Disgruntled man shoots 3 at hospital

A retired teacher bearing a grudge over his mother’s treatment at the hospital where she died fatally shot one of her nurses, another employee and a man outside yesterday before police shot him, authorities said.

Charles Johnston, 63, is being charged with murder and will be turned over to police after an overnight stay in another hospital, where he was treated for a shoulder wound, Police Chief Ricky Boren said.

The chief said the gunman arrived at Doctors Hospital with three pistols, including a 9mm automatic and a .38-caliber revolver, and went to the fifth-floor intensive care unit where his mother had been in 2004.

Salt Lake City

Romney joins McCain on the trail

In a show of Republican unity, one-time bitter foes John McCain and Mitt Romney raised money and campaigned together yesterday for a single goal – getting McCain elected president.

“We are united. Now our job is to energize our party,” the Arizona senator said in an airport hangar, flanked by Romney and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., an early McCain supporter. Both have been mentioned as potential vice presidential picks, and McCain praised each.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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