Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Palestinian faction leaders sign deal to share power

Rival Palestinian factions signed a power-sharing accord aimed at ending months of bloodshed yesterday, agreeing that the Islamic militant group Hamas would head a new coalition government that would “respect” past peace agreements with Israel.

However, Israel and the U.S. have demanded the new government explicitly renounce violence, recognize Israel and agree to uphold past peace accords. The vague promise to respect past deals – a compromise reached after Hamas rejected pressure for more binding language – did not appear to go far enough.

U.S. and Israeli acceptance is crucial to the deal’s success. Unless they are convinced Hamas has sufficiently moderated, the West is unlikely to lift a crippling financial blockade of the Palestinian government, and it will be difficult to advance the peace process.

Hollywood, Fla.
Anna Nicole Smith dies at hotel

Anna Nicole Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale – Playboy centerfold, jeans model, bride of an octogenarian oil tycoon, reality-show subject, tragic mother – died yesterday after collapsing at a hotel. She was 39.

She was stricken while staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and was rushed to a hospital. Edwina Johnson, chief investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, said the cause of death was under investigation and an autopsy would be done on today.

Just five months ago, Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel, died suddenly in the Bahamas in what was believed to be a drug-related death.

Washington
Prosecution rests in CIA leak case

NBC’s Tim Russert deflected criticism of his ethics and credibility as he completed a heated second day of cross-examination yesterday in the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter Libby.

Russert, who testified that he never discussed outed CIA operative Valerie Plame with Libby, was the final prosecution witness before Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald rested his three-week perjury and obstruction case. Libby’s attorneys will begin calling witnesses Monday.

The journalist was subjected to the kind of interrogation he usually gives guests on his Sunday television show “Meet the Press,” as attorneys flashed excerpts of his previous statements on a video monitor and asked him to explain inconsistencies.

Concord, N.H.
Supporters start planning to draft Gore for ’08

Allies from Al Gore’s past are quietly assembling a campaign to draft the former vice president into the 2008 presidential race – despite his repeated statements that he’s not running.

His top policy adviser from his 2000 presidential campaign and other key supporters met yesterday in Boston to mull a potential Gore campaign. The participants and Gore’s Nashville office both said Gore, who is in London, is not involved.

Elaine Kamarck, a veteran of the Clinton White House and Gore’s policy guru in 2000, said the meeting was informal and shouldn’t be taken as a sign there will be a Gore 2008 campaign.

Chris Mackin, a Boston consultant and Gore supporter, called it “an early stage conversation.” But he added: “We’re very serious about exploring this.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

Notable Number

100

The fine in dollars that New York State Sen. Carl Kruger wants to charge New York pedestrians who cross the street while listening to iPods or talking on cell phones, The Associated Press reported yesterday. Two of Kruger’s constituents were hit by vehicles and killed while they walking into traffic while listening to MP3 players.

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