Washington

Reporter testified against Libby in CIA-leak trial

Reporter Judith Miller testified yesterday that former vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby identified a CIA operative to her on two occasions on dates earlier than he has told investigators he first heard the information from another reporter.

Miller, the former New York Times reporter who spent 85 days in jail trying to avoid revealing these conversations, said Libby identified the wife of a prominent Iraq war critic as a CIA employee in face-to-face meetings on June 23 and July 8, 2003.

Libby, then Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told the FBI and a grand jury that he thought he was hearing Valerie Plame’s CIA job for the first time from NBC’s Tim Russert on July 10, 2003.

Earlier Tuesday, the jury saw notes Libby took on or about June 12 that indicated Cheney himself told Libby then that the war critic’s wife worked at the CIA.

The discrepancy over when Libby learned about Plame is a major element in the charges on which he is being tried. He is not accused of leaking her name but rather of perjury and obstruction of the investigation into how her name leaked. Libby now says his memory failed him when he spoke with Russert and other reporters.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip

Palestinian factions agree to truce after days of bloodshed

Gaza’s warring factions began to hold their fire yesterday as a truce took effect across the volatile territory and brought hopes for an end to the infighting that has left 36 people dead in five days.

But the killing of a Hamas militant by rival Palestinians – combined with an Israeli airstrike on a smuggling tunnel following a suicide bombing – underscored the fragility of any lull in Gaza’s bloodshed.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas called for a total halt to the violence.

Previous truces between Hamas and Fatah militants in Gaza have quickly collapsed into new fighting, and it appeared unlikely the two sides would comply with all the terms of the current agreement, such as handing over all those involved in killings and abductions.


Baghdad

Scores dead after attacks on Shiite high holy day

Bombers struck Shiite worshippers in two cities yesterday and gunmen ambushed a busload of pilgrims in a series of attacks that killed at least 58 people as more than 2 million Shiites jammed major shrines for ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day of the Shiite calendar.

The bloodshed took place despite heightened security following a battle with messianic Shiites who authorities said planned a large assault on Ashoura ceremonies. With security so intense at the main venues, extremists chose targets in smaller cities where safety measures were less stringent.

Brussels

E.U. considering Europe-wide ban on public smoking

The European Union was expected to launch a debate yesterday that could lead to a EU-wide ban on smoking in public places.

EU Health Commission Markos Kyprianou will unveil a discussion paper favorable to calls for a ban on smoking in work places including restaurants and bars. After a debate involving national authorities, industry and consumer groups, the EU’s executive is expected to propose EU-wide legislation.

All 27 EU nations have rules limiting smoking in public places, but they vary widely from country to country.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

Notable Number

14

The number of U.S. dollars it costs for a six-hour tour across a mock U.S.-Mexican border in one Mexican town. Ninety percent of the town’s population is estimated to have illegally crossed the real border, Harpers reported.

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