Economic aid package not expected by Jan. 20
WASHINGTON: Congressional Democrats said yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama probably will have to wait until next month before getting the chance to sign an economic aid bill his team once hoped would be on his desk by his swearing-in Jan. 20. "It's going to be very difficult to get the package put together that early," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said. "But we certainly want to see this package passed through the House of Representatives no later than the end of this month, get it over to the Senate, and have it to the president before we break" in mid-February. Obama planned to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to talk about enacting a huge spending plan. The president-elect also scheduled a separate meeting with the entire Democratic and Republican leadership teams.
Suicide bomber kills dozens at Iraqi shrine
BAGHDAD: A woman hiding among Iranian pilgrims with a bomb strapped under her black robe killed more than three dozen people yesterday outside a Baghdad mosque during ceremonies commemorating the death of one of Shiite Islam's most revered saints. The suicide attack, the most recent in a series that has killed more than 60 people in less that a week, was the latest to mar the transfer of many security responsibilities from the U.S. military to Iraqi forces. Iraqi security forces have deployed thousands of troops in Baghdad and in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, just south of the capital, to safeguard against attacks during the ceremonies. Attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq, Sunni insurgents and even a Shiite cult have killed hundreds of people in recent years. The attack in Baghdad's northern Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah, which also wounded at least 72 people, comes two days after a suicide bomber slipped into a luncheon at a tribal leader's home south of Baghdad and killed at least 23 people.
Va. governor to become next DNC chairman
WASHINGTON: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is set to become the next Democratic Party chairman. Two Democratic officials said yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen the governor to take over the Democratic National Committee. The officials spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been officially announced. Kaine plans to work at the party part time until 2010, when his term as governor is up and he can take over the DNC full time. Current DNC Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down Jan. 21, the day after Obama's inauguration. Obama has also chosen Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, who directed his successful campaign battleground state strategy, to run day-to-day operations at the party as executive director.
Senate should seat Franken, Schumer says
MINNEAPOLIS: New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer said yesterday that Democrat Al Franken is the clear winner in Minnesota's Senate race and should be seated as soon as possible. But a leading Republican lawmaker said calling the race for Franken would be premature. Schumer, who until recently was the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, made his statement a day after Minnesota elections officials completed the recount. The latest numbers showed Franken with a 225-vote lead over the Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman. The state Canvassing Board is expected to certify the results of the recount today, and then there will be a seven-day waiting period before an election certificate is completed. If any lawsuits are filed during that waiting period, certification is conditional until the issue is settled in court.
9/11 mastermind faces French trial in absentia
PARIS : The self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks goes on trial in absentia in France today for allegedly ordering a deadly Tunisian synagogue bombing less than a year after the assault on New York and Washington. The proceedings in Paris are expected to highlight the reach and complexity of al-Qaida-linked networks in North Africa, although they are unlikely to directly affect the fate of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. Also on trial in France are Christian Ganczarski, a German who converted to Islam, and Walid Naouar, the brother of the suicide bomber who drove a propane-laden truck into an ancient synagogue on the island of Djerba on April 11, 2002, killing 21 people. Ganczarski and Naouar are charged with complicity in the murders and complicity in attempted murder in the synagogue attack, and they could face life sentences if convicted in the Paris trial, which is expected to last until Feb. 6.