Truthout | News in Brief (13)

Friday, 23 April 2010 12:51 By Mary Susan Littlepage, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

Obama calls Arizona immigration bill "misguided." The Washington Post reports that President Obama urged Congress today to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, saying that inaction would lead to "misguided efforts" and "irresponsibility by others."

The president also said an immigration bill currently on the Arizona governor's desk was "misguided," and he said he has ordered his staff to "closely monitor the situation" to make sure the measure will not violate people's civil liberties. The bill, already passed by the state House and Senate, would require authorities in Arizona to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

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The New York Times reports that a series of bombings today struck mosques, a market and a shop in Baghdad, as well as the homes of a prosecutor and police officers in western Iraq, killing dozens, only five days after a joint Iraqi-American raid killed the top two leaders of the insurgency.

Iraq's leaders had hailed the killings and arrests of insurgent leaders this week as a devastating blow to the group known as al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, but warned that retaliation was almost certain to come. It was not clear that the group, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, was behind the latest jolt of violence.

The attacks were the worst of an intermittent wave of bombings since the parliamentary election on March 7, providing a violent backdrop to stalled efforts to finalize the results of the vote and form a new government.

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The Hill reports that Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York yesterday took some shots at the Obama administration's handling of Israel, calling it "terrible" and "counterproductive." Schumer, the vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, is one of the highest-ranking members of the party to sharply criticize Obama administration efforts to take on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The senator, who is a strong ally of Israel, expressed disappointment with the administration's decision to demand that Israel halt all settlement construction as a precondition to full peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

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Talking Points Memo reports that Utah faces the possibility of executing a convicted killer by firing squad, renewing a debate over what critics see as an antiquated, Old West-style of justice. At a hearing today, Third District Judge Robin Reese will consider whether to sign a warrant of execution for Ronnie Lee Gardner, who killed a man during a failed escape 25 years ago.

Under state law, Gardner, 49, decides whether he wants to be killed by lethal injection or be shot by a five-man team of executioners firing from a set of matched rifles, a rarely used relic that hearkens back to Utah's territorial history.

Of the 35 states with the death penalty on the books, Utah is the only one to use the firing squad as a method of execution since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that the Greek government pushed the button on an emergency financial bailout package today, formally acknowledging that it needs loans from its European neighbors and the International Monetary Fund to avoid a humiliating bankruptcy.

In a nationally televised address, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told his countrymen that activating the low-interest loans worth up to $56 billion had become a "national necessity" if the government is to keep on paying its bills.

The move came after weeks of insistence by Athens that it would not have to resort to such loans, which it characterized as more of an insurance policy to soothe skittish investors. But global markets were not satisfied, pushing up Greece's cost of borrowing to unsustainable levels this week and forcing Athens to bow to the inevitable.

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The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the FBI says a flight from Los Angeles to Florida was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a passenger tried to open a cabin door.

Crew members and fellow passengers on Delta flight 2148 subdued 46-year-old Stanley Dwayne Sheffield. He was taken into federal custody early today after the plane landed.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Darrin Jones says authorities do not believe the incident was related to terrorism. Sheffield faces charges of interference with flight crew members and destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities. 

Last modified on Friday, 23 April 2010 13:00