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2 Senior Members of al-Sadr's Movement Killed in Iraq


Iraq: Iraqi officials say two senior members of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement have been killed in separate incidents.
Officials say (Ali Khazim,) the leader of al-Sadr's political organization in Diyala province was killed Sunday when U.S. and Iraqi forces raided his home (in the village of Howaider) near the town of Baquba.
In the other incident, gunmen killed (Khalil al-Maliki,) a local leader of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in a drive-by shooting Sunday in the southern city of Basra.
Iraqi police say mortar and bomb attacks killed at least 13 people in Baghdad today (Monday).
A U.S. military official (Colonel Douglass Heckman) said Sunday that U.S. and Iraqi forces could begin a new security sweep of Baghdad within days. The Iraqi general in charge of the offensive was expected to open a command center in the city today.

Bush – Budget: President Bush delivers his 2008 budget proposal to the U.S. Congress today (Monday), a two-point-nine-trillion-dollar spending request that sets up the annual debate over federal government spending.
Chief White House budget officer Rob Portman says the request includes 245 billion dollars in spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- (100 billion dollars) for the remainder of 2007 and (145 billion dollars) for 2008.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (of the state of California) says lawmakers will take a very close look at the president's plan, but it is unlikely that funding for American troops in the field will be cut.
With Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress, big battles are expected over White House proposals to cut popular domestic programs to offset increased military spending.

Bird Flu: The United Nations' top bird-flu expert says Europe can expect more cases of deadly H5N1 virus in domestic birds over the next few months, after the virus killed 25-hundred turkeys in eastern England.
Dr. David Nabarro says migrating wild birds infected with the virus are likely to come in contact with domestic poultry flocks in Europe, but that the bird-flu threat to humans is very small.
The U.N. official says the virus is unlikely to spread in Britain because authorities reacted quickly to last week's outbreak. (Nabarro spoke to reporters Sunday in Indonesia, where he is attending a conference about bird flu.)
British officials are enforcing a three-kilometer exclusion zone around the farm (210 kilometers) northeast of London. They also have slaughtered tens of thousands of healthy turkeys (at the same farm) as a precaution.

Thailand Politics:

Thailand's military-installed prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, has fired the national police chief, amid criticism that he has failed to solve a series of deadly bombings in the capital.
A government spokesman (Yongyuth Maiyalarb) said today (Monday) that Mr. Chulanont ordered the police chief to be transferred to an inactive post in the prime minister's office.
The government has criticized General Kowit Watana for taking too long to solve a string of bombings that killed three people and wounded about 40 others in Bangkok on December 31st.
The military government has said it believes supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra were behind the bombings. Mr. Shinawatra has suggested that militants waging an insurgency in the country's south organized the attack.
Last month, police detained 19 suspects in the bombing, but released them several days later because of lack of evidence.

Listen to our World News for details.

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