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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan
US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 19, 2005

Shared concern about China and its threat to use force against Taiwan are drawing Japan and the United States closer in their determination to maintain peace and stability in East Asia.

While the Bush administration says it supports China's emergence as an economic power in the region and the world, the overriding US message to Beijing is, as State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday: "Play by the rules."
Increasingly, Japan is growing bolder in publicly seconding that view.

During talks Saturday in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono are expected to make strong statements in support of ensuring security in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula.

They also were expected to renew demands that North Korea halt development of nuclear weapons while exploring strategy to persuade Pyongyang to drop its opposition to resuming negotiations with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Rice and the two Japanese ministers are new to their jobs, so it is an occasion for wide-ranging discussions, said Hatsuhisa Takashima, spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Besides Taiwan, he said in an interview Friday, based on "our long-standing alliance" the two sides were seeking a common strategy to deal with terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the continuing problem of conventional weapons.

Reflecting growing US unease about China's aims, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith said Thursday that "for a country like China, the fundamental choice is whether it wishes to join the group of advanced economies whose relationships are governed by the `rules of the road' of the international state system."

Feith, who helps formulate Pentagon policy, said of all the countries growing in power, China is most likely to have the greatest effect on international relations in the years ahead.

When President George W. Bush travels to Europe next week, he will try, in what probably will be a futile effort, to persuade European Union nations to leave in place a 15-year-old arms embargo against China. It was imposed after the June 1989 Tiananmen incident.

"The president has real concerns about it," his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said in a speech Thursday.

As for China's behavior, Hadley said, "We all have an interest in China continuing to move in the direction of democracy and freedom and being a constructive member of the international community."

The Europeans, he said, share US concerns about human rights in China.

In East Asia, Japan is showing a growing inclination to stand with the United States on Taiwan.

Praising Japan as a steadfast ally, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region was a shared goal, and she looked forward to a joint effort with Japan to restrain China from using force against Taiwan.

Rice said the mutual goal of ensuring stability reflected a "very deep and broad relationship" between Washington and Tokyo.

Until now, Japan mostly has left it to the United States to deal with China's wrath and threats to use force against Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province that eventually must be recovered by the mainland.

Rice, in a joint news conference Friday with visiting Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, reiterated the long-standing US admonition to China.

"There should be no attempt to change the status quo unilaterally," she said.

The United States' security alliance with Japan has formed the backbone of US foreign policy in Asia. The two allies long have disagreed, however, about how to deal with China's territorial claim over self-ruled Taiwan, which split with Beijing after nationalists fled to the island in 1949 as the communists were winning the civil war.

Washington has indicated it would intervene if China were to try to take Taiwan by force. A cautious Japan traditionally has sought to avoid involvement.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1108696750698&p=1078113566627

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, K

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report,US: Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report
25 Hours,46 minutes Ago

[US News]: WASHINGTON - Japan will formally join the United States this weekend in declaring the Taiwan Strait a common security concern in a move likely to anger China, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The Post said a formal agreement would be announced after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meet with their Japanese counterparts here on Saturday.

“This is the first time that Japan has made its stance clear,” Koh Se-kai, Taiwan’s special representative to Japan, told the Post, which called the move the biggest change in the US-Japanese security alliance since 1996.

“In the past, Japan has been very indirect on the Taiwan issue,” Koh was quoted as saying. “We’re relieved that Japan has become more assertive.”

The State Department would not confirm the reported moved by Japan.

Japan ended its diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 to establish relations with rival China.


A US official, who asked not to be named, confirmed however that the US and Japanese ministers would confer on a “broad range of security topics in Asia, including the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

Japanese Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono, who was to leave Japan later Friday with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, said the two countries would “fully discuss destabilizing factors.”

Asked about China, Ono said: “Japan must have good relations. I would like to pursue common grounds” with the United States on China.

The Post, in a dispatch dated from Tokyo, said Japan would join the administration of President George W. Bush in designating security in the Taiwan Strait as a “common strategic objective.”

The move is likely to displease China, which has a considerable military force amassed on the Taiwan Strait opposite the island that split off in 1949. Beijing has threatened to use force if Taiwan formally declared independence.

Washington has recognized Taiwan as part of China since in 1979, but is obliged under US law to offer the island a means of self-defense if its security is threatened.

China is sensitive to any movements in the United States. A bipartisan resolution introduced Wednesday in the US House of Representatives calling for an end to the “one China” policy drew a sharp reaction from Beijing.

Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party who is widely seen as a likely successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, supported the reported US-Japan agreement.

“It would be wrong for us to send a signal to China that the United States and Japan will watch and tolerate China’s military invasion of Taiwan,” Abe told the Post.

“If the situation surrounding Japan threatens our security, Japan can provide US forces with support,” he added.

An unidentified senior Japanese government official told the daily: “We consider China a friendly country, but it is also unpredictable. If it takes aggressive action, Japan cannot just stand by and watch.”



US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, K

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report
25 Hours,47 minutes Ago

Page 2 of 2 < Go to Previous Page

China is sensitive to any movements in the United States. A bipartisan resolution introduced Wednesday in the US House of Representatives calling for an end to the “one China” policy drew a sharp reaction from Beijing.

Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party who is widely seen as a likely successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, supported the reported US-Japan agreement.

“It would be wrong for us to send a signal to China that the United States and Japan will watch and tolerate China’s military invasion of Taiwan,” Abe told the Post.

“If the situation surrounding Japan threatens our security, Japan can provide US forces with support,” he added.

An unidentified senior Japanese government official told the daily: “We consider China a friendly country, but it is also unpredictable. If it takes aggressive action, Japan cannot just stand by and watch.”

NYTimes > Presidents Bush and Clinton have become friends

Doug Mills
The New York Times
On Thursday night in Houston, Mr. Bush boarded an official blue-and-white Boeing 757 jet with "United States of America" on its side in Houston and flew to Los Angeles to pick up former President Bill Clinton.

By 10 o'clock, the two were headed toward Phuket, Thailand, to make their first appearance to help raise money for tsunami victims on Saturday afternoon local time.
From there, the former presidents were scheduled to visit Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Sunday and Sri Lanka and the Maldives on Monday.
Neither of their wives, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Barbara Bush, were on the trip.
"It's just the two guys," Jean Becker, Mr. Bush's chief of staff, said.
Ms. Becker said before leaving on Thursday that she did not know where Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton would sit on the plane, or whether they would have separate compartments, but that both would be up front.
"I know there are couches and beds, and they'll figure out the sleeping arrangements when they get on the plane," she said.
The trip is the most dramatic example in recent months of what staff members for both men describe as a growing friendship that seems to have erased the bitterness of the 1992 election, when Mr. Clinton ousted Mr. Bush from the White House.
When Mr. Clinton was in the hospital for quadruple bypass heart surgery last September, aides say, the 41st president was almost instantly on the telephone.
"President Bush immediately picked up the phone and said, 'Bill, what the hell happened to you?' " Ms. Becker recounted.
When Mr. Bush went to the dedication of Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., with the current president and former President Jimmy Carter in November, the 41st and 42nd presidents talked at times with such familiarity that former staff members were taken aback.
"President Clinton was walking with all the presidents, and former President Bush says, 'Bill, what are you doing with this property back here?' " said Representative Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat was a top aide to Mr. Clinton. "It only sticks with me because it seemed so 'friendlike.' "
More recently, Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton, whom President Bush appointed last month as his representatives in raising money for tsunami relief, were seen joking with each other as they sat side by side at the Super Bowl, where they had been invited by the National Football League.
Former staff members said the friendship could offer political advantages for the Bush and Clinton families, softening the edges of a political rivalry, as Mr. Bush's son begins his second term and as Mrs. Clinton considers a run for president in 2008.
Former staff members also said the friendship seemed genuine and was ultimately not that surprising given that there are only five men alive who know what it is like to go through the crucible of the American presidency. At the end of the day, the staff members said, partisan differences were overcome by the power of that shared experience.
"It has its own little Outward Bound quality to it," Mr. Emanuel said.
The new warmth arises as President Bush and Mr. Clinton, who had little love for each other in the past, have grown closer.
"Frankly, President Bush likes Clinton a lot," Roland Betts, a close friend of the president, said. "He says he thinks he's a terrific person. He's not judging his administration. He just likes being around him."
Mr. Betts, who made those remarks in an interview in December, added in a brief interview this week that in his view the current president and Mr. Clinton were charismatic people and that they "saw a little bit of themselves in each other, and they liked it."
Staff members for the three men say they first noticed the thaw last Memorial Day, when the 41st, 42nd and 43rd presidents, on stage after the dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, shared private laughs. At one point, George H. W. Bush gave Mr. Clinton a playful but vigorous shove as a reaction to something Mr. Clinton had said. Aides could not recall this past week what it was, but one person did say the current president joked at the time that Mr. Clinton's biography, "My Life," was so long that he would have to read one half and his father the other.
The warming trend continued a few weeks later, when the president unveiled Mr. Clinton's official portrait at the White House with such gracious words that aides said Mr. Clinton was stunned. Mr. Bush praised Mr. Clinton as a man "with far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a president."
Mr. Clinton reddened and his eye teared as he acknowledged: "I had mixed feelings coming here today, and they were only confirmed by all those kind and generous things you've said. Made me feel like I was a pickle stepping into history."
By the time of Mr. Clinton's library dedication, he and the Bushes were falling over one another with accolades. But the 41st president spoke about the man who bested him in 1992 in personal and revealing terms.
"It always has to be said that Bill Clinton was one of the most gifted American political figures in modern times," Former President Bush said. "Trust me. I learned this the hard way."
Mr. Bush added that "seeing him out on the campaign trail, it was plain to see how he fed off the energy and the hopes and the aspirations of the American people."
"Simply put," Mr. Bush said, "he was a natural and he made it look easy. And, oh, how I hated him for that!"
Since being named tsunami relief envoys, they have appeared in public service advertisements and other appearances.
"In January," Ms. Becker said, "when we needed to get the two in the same city, it was: 'I'll come to your city.' 'No, I'll come to your city.' "
When they are together, she added, they joke about the 41st president's skydiving and which one is in the best health.
"President Bush likes to say, 'I'm 80, for God's sake,' " Ms. Becker said. "And President Clinton says, 'Well, you're the one jumping out of airplanes.' "





Friday, February 18, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Huge 'star-quake' rocks Milky Way

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Huge 'star-quake' rocks Milky Way

Huge 'star-quake' rocks Milky Way
Astronomers say they have been stunned by the amount of energy released in a star explosion on the far side of our galaxy, 50,000 light-years away.

The flash of radiation on 27 December was so powerful that it bounced off the Moon and lit up the Earth's atmosphere.

The blast occurred on the surface of an exotic kind of star - a super-magnetic neutron star called SGR 1806-20.

If the explosion had been within just 10 light-years, Earth could have suffered a mass extinction, it is said.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event
Dr Rob Fender, Southampton University
"We figure that it's probably the biggest explosion observed by humans within our galaxy since Johannes Kepler saw his supernova in 1604," Dr Rob Fender, of Southampton University, UK, told the BBC News website.

One calculation has the giant flare on SGR 1806-20 unleashing about 10,000 trillion trillion trillion watts.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We have observed an object only 20km across, on the other side of our galaxy, releasing more energy in a 10th of a second than the Sun emits in 100,000 years," said Dr Fender.

Fast turn

The event overwhelmed detectors on space-borne telescopes, such as the recently launched Swift observatory.

This facility was put above the Earth to detect and analyse gamma-ray bursts - very intense but fleeting flashes of radiation.

The giant flare it and other instruments caught in December has left scientists scrabbling for superlatives.

Twenty institutes from around the world have joined the investigation and two teams are to report their findings in a forthcoming issue of the journal Nature.

The light detected from the giant flare was far brighter in gamma-rays than visible light or X-rays.

Research teams say the event can be traced to the magnetar SGR 1806-20.

This remarkable super-dense object is a neutron star - it is composed entirely of neutrons and is the remnant collapsed core of a once giant star.

Now, though, this remnant is just 20km across and spins so fast it completes one revolution every 7.5 seconds.

"It has this super-strong magnetic field and this produces some kind of structure which has undergone a rearrangement - it's an event that is sometimes characterised as a 'star-quake', a neutron star equivalent of an earthquake," explained Dr Fender.

"It's the only possible way we can think of releasing so much energy."

Continued glow

SGR 1806-20 is sited in the southern constellation Sagittarius. Its distance puts it beyond the centre of the Milky Way and a safe distance from Earth.

"Had this happened within 10 light-years of us, it would have severely damaged our atmosphere and would possibly have triggered a mass extinction," said Dr Bryan Gaensler, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who is the lead author on one of the forthcoming Nature papers.

"Fortunately there are no magnetars anywhere near us."

The initial burst of high-energy radiation subsided quickly but there continues to be an afterglow at longer radio wavelengths.

This radio emission persists as the shockwave from the explosion moves out through space, ploughing through nearby gas and exciting matter to extraordinary energies.

"We may go on observing this radio source for much of this year," Dr Fender said.

This work is being done at several centres around the globe, including at the UK's Multi-Element Radio-Linked Interferometer Network (Merlin) and the Joint Institute for VLBI (Very Long Baseline for Interferometry) in Europe - both large networks of linked radio telescopes.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/4278005.stm

Thursday, February 17, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th

CBS 46 Atlanta - Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th: "Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th
Feb 17, 2005, 10:23 AM

ATLANTA (AP) -- A judge has set the trial date for former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell for September 26th on federal racketeering charges.

U-S District Court Judge Richard Story will preside over the case. Campbell also is charged with bribery and tax evasion.

He has denied the charges. Campbell insists he never accepted illegal campaign contributions or payment for certain official actions while he was mayor from 1994 to 2002.

He is suspected of awarding an additional 80 million dollars to United Water, which had received a 20-year, 21-point-four million dollar a year contract to operate the city's water system.

Campbell has said he never authorized the payments and lacked the authority to do so."

Sunday, February 13, 2005

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Battle rages on Philippine island

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Battle rages on Philippine island: "Battle rages on Philippine island
Battle rages on Philippine island
The Philippine army is battling Muslim rebels who it says are making a "last stand" after a week of clashes on the southern island of Jolo.

Up to 12,000 people have fled the fighting which has left about 90 soldiers and rebels dead.

The rebels are from the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group along with followers of the jailed militant, Nur Misuari.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 troops are fighting 800 militants in the heaviest fighting for years.

The fighting began last Monday. An Abu Sayyaf leader, Abu Solaiman, told a radio station it had joined forces with the Misuari followers to avenge the death of a couple and their son who were killed by troops.



The military says it returned fire after the couple shot at soldiers.

The rebels then attacked troops at an army base, killing 30, including the battalion commander, the military says.

The government flew in reinforcements, including US-trained counter-terrorist troops, and said the army has killed more than 60 rebels in heavy fighting.

Three more soldiers were killed on Sunday as they pursued the militants, the army said.

"There's heavy fighting going on in the Panamao and Luuk areas," said senior southern Philippines commander Lt Gen Alberto Braganza.

"They are taking a last stand in the mountains."

Anti-terrorist taskforce commander, Brig Gen Agustin Dema-ala, said: "We are still encountering resistance but the situation is manageable."

'No surrender'

Absalom Cerveza, a Misuari ally, said he had spoken to the rebels on Friday and they were in "high spirits and far from being crushed".

"They do not like to surrender, they will fight to the death," he said.

The BBC's Sarah Toms in Manila says there have been local calls for a ceasefire but the army has shown no signs it will agree.

Misuari was the founder of the Muslim separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MNLF signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996 under which Misuari became governor of an autonomous region.

But he mounted a failed rebellion when he was not endorsed for a second term and fled to Malaysia. He was deported and jailed.

Abu Sayyaf has been involved in a number of kidnappings and bombings. It was blamed for sinking a ferry in Manila Bay last year, killing more than 100 people.

Although the Jolo fighting is the worst since Misuari's uprising in 2001, the military has never been able to bring Jolo under full control.

The rebels hold much of the island with support from many of the residents.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4261473.stm

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Shiites Win Most Votes in Iraq, Election Results Show

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Shiites Win Most Votes in Iraq, Election Results Show: "February 13, 2005
Shiites Win Most Votes in Iraq, Election Results Show
By JOHN F. BURNS and NAT IVES
February 13, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 13 - New and nearly final tallies of the votes cast in the Jan. 30 Iraqi national election show Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims won almost half, or 48.2 percent, of the nearly 8.5 million votes cast, more than any other group but not enough to select the country's next president and other leaders without the help of others.

That help could come in the form of a coalition with the No. 2 vote-getters, an alliance of Kurdish candidates. Helped by a turnout over 90 percent in three Kurdish provinces, their alliance received nearly 2.2 million votes, or 25.6 percent of the votes cast.

A ticket led by Ayad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister, finished third, with nearly 1.2 million votes, or 13.8 percent.

The long-awaited results were issued this morning in Baghdad by representatives of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, who meticulously ticked off vote counts by province and by party. Voters chose from 111 parties as they voted for members of 18 provincial parliaments and a 275-member transitional national assembly. That assembly will be responsible for writing the country's constitution.

Today's figures showed a turnout of about 60 percent among Iraq's 14 million eligible voters.

Almost immediately after today's figures were announced, political leaders made a frenetic round of discussions about forming a transitional government, with indications that the process was likely to be both protracted and contentious.

Although the Shiite coalition that campaigned under the patronage of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani failed to take a simple majority of the votes cast, after a projected lead shrunk as more votes arrived from areas north of Baghdad, it appeared likely to win a majority of seats in the national assembly.

Iraq's election commission will not officially allocate assembly seats until after a 72-hour period that begins Monday during which the parties may enter any protests they have against the vote count. The commission said it has set no deadline for announcing the formal breakdown of seats, a fact that suggested there could be a wait of as much as a week. Votes cast for parties that failed to gather the minimum number required to win a single seat - about 30,750 votes - will be struck from the total votes cast before any seats are allocated.

Applying the complex formulas for assigning seats under the proportional representation system used for the election, unofficial calculations show the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition, headed for 140 seats. The Kurdish Alliance, made up of two Kurdish parties, appears likely to receive 75 seats. Dr. Allawi's ticket, called the Iraqi List, will likely get about 40 seats.

But the provisional constitution adopted during the formal American occupation last year effectively requires a two-thirds majority in the assembly to win approval for the key posts of the presidency council - to include a president and two vice presidents - who will in turn pick a prime minister and a cabinet.

So the Shiite alliance would still need the help of another party to achieve decisive influence in the selection of the country's next leaders. There have been intense discussions between the Shiite alliance and the Kurdish alliance since the election two weeks ago in an attempt to form a coalition in the assembly.

The results today, however, opened up the slim possibility of the Shiite alliance facing a challenge in forming a government. Secular parties have been running parallel discussions to see if they can at least form a bloc large enough to deny the Shiites the two-thirds majority it seeks.

Those secularist efforts have been led by Dr. Allawi, who flew to the northern city of Erbil on Thursday for hurried talks with Massoud Barzani, one of the principal leaders of one of the two major Kurdish political groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Dr. Allawi and his aides have also put out feelers to secular groups including the party led by the interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar, the only predominantly Sunni group to have emerged from the election with a significant bloc of seats, and the Communists.

Mr. Barzani said today that he was satisfied in general with the results, although he said as many as 300,000 Kurds may not have been able to vote and that he may take up the issue with the election commission during the 72-hour challenge period.

"It was a big success for the entire people of Iraq and for the people of Kurdistan in general," Mr. Barzani said in an interview a reception hall in his mountain retreat of Salahuddin, with snow blanketing the grounds. "It shows the size of the Kurds in Iraq. It also shows the Kurds can play a major role in the building of a new Iraq that is federal, democratic and pluralistic."

American officials had adopted an attitude of insistent neutrality ahead of the election results, saying they would work with any government that emerged. But the emerging likelihood of a broad coalition government may please the Americans, since it seems likely to favor moderation on issues of crucial importance to the United States, including the role of Islam in the future Iraqi state.

Before the election results were announced, key leaders in the Shiite alliance acknowledged the need to form coalitions with other political groups in order to achieve the two-thirds majority required to form a government. They said they were not planning to include Shiite clerics in the government and would not push for stringent Islamic provisions in the new constitution.

The leaders of two Shiite religious parties have also said they have no plans to lay down a timetable for withdrawal of American troops, but prefer that United States troops remain in Iraq as long as it takes for Iraq's own American-trained security forces to develop to the point that they can defend the new government against Sunni insurgents on their own.

The uncertified results reflected the broad Sunni boycott of the elections, called for by Sunni leaders in the months leading up to the vote. The Iraqis Party, composed of Sunnis and Shiites and led by Mr. Yawar, a Sunni Arab, won about 150,000 votes, or 1.7 percent, in the contest for the national assembly. Unofficial calculations show the Iraqis Party will receive five assembly seats as a result.

Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group, told the Al-Jazeera network that the lack of international or United Nations election monitors undermined the results' authenticity.

"Those who boycotted the elections are more than those who took part in it," he said. "Boycotting the election does not mean that the boycotter will renounce his rights."

A party led by Moktada al-Sadr, the cleric who has led Shiite uprisings against American troops, also received enough votes to gain perhaps three seats in the new transitional assembly.

Serving as a reminder that the country's power struggles have not been totally channeled into electioneering, violence erupted again today as one soldier with Task Force Danger was killed and another was wounded by indirect fire on a base near Samarra this afternoon, the American military said. Three other Task Force Danger soldiers also died this morning in a vehicle rollover during a combat patrol near Balad.

Elsewhere in Iraq, insurgents attacked a United States convoy and a government building near Mosul in northern Iraq, killing four people, The Associated Press reported. Two members of the Iraqi National Guard also died trying to defuse a roadside bomb.

John F. Burns reported from Baghdad, Iraq, for this article, Edward Wong contributed reporting from Erbil, Iraq,and Nat Ives contributed from New York.