Anti-u.S. cleric announces plan for elections
Anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced a strategy Sunday for influencing Iraq's fall elections, including backing independents, technocrats and tribal figures. The October provincial elections are seen by U.S. congressional leaders as an important benchmark of the country's political progress. Sadr's latest approach appears to be an effort to ensure that he gets some representation in provincial governments. But by not running candidates directly under the Sadr banner, he may hope to avoid blame for a poor showing. Also Sunday, the U.S. military described a weekend blitz that officials said "severely degrades" the capability of Iraqi insurgents when American and Iraq troops seized one "huge" and three smaller weapons and munitions caches in Baghdad. The "huge" cache contained 90 Soviet-made rockets, several mortars made in Iran, mines, TNT and numerous other explosives. Likely Republican presidential candidate John McCain met with Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, to discuss security improvements and negotiations between the two countries on an agreement for the future presence of U.S. military forces in Iraq.
Olmert says swap soldiers for rebel
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has concluded that Israel should swap the perpetrator of a notorious guerrilla attack for two Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon since 2006, a senior government official confirmed on Sunday. Hezbollah seized Eldad Regev and Uri Goldwasser in a July 2006 cross-border raid that sparked a monthlong war with Israel. Samir Kantar, a Lebanese PLO operative, is serving multiple life sentences for killing four Israelis in a 1979 attack on an apartment building in northern Israel.
Elian Gonzalez joins Communists
The Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union. Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde quotes Elian Gonzalez as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, who succeeded Fidel earlier this year. Now 14, Elian was 6 when Miami relatives lost their fight to keep him in the United States and he was returned to Cuba in mid 2000 with his father. Elian had survived a boating accident off the Florida coast that killed his mother, who was attempting to get to the United States.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's air force destroyed a Tamil Tiger rebel base in the north Sunday, while 19 insurgents and two soldiers were killed in sporadic ground fighting over two days, the military said.
Britain: The bishop of London said Sunday he would order an investigation into whether two gay priests exchanged rings and vows in a church ceremony, violating Anglican guidelines. The priests walked down the aisle in a May 31 service, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported.
Japan: Rescue teams digging their way through a ravine buried in mud Sunday pulled three bodies from a hot springs inn, bringing the death toll to nine after a powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan.
Macedonia: A peaceful repeat vote Sunday confirmed the ruling coalition's landslide victory in parliamentary elections that had initially been marred by violence, election officials said.