Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

U.N. warns Iraq of 'chaos' if no political progress

BAGHDAD — The United Nations urged Iraq's leaders Saturday to overcome their deep divisions and move quickly to form a new government that can unite the country and confront a surging militant threat, warning that failure to do so "risks plunging the country into chaos."

The Sunni insurgent blitz over the past month has driven Iraq into its deepest crisis since the last American troops left in 2011, sending Sunni-Shiite tensions soaring and raising the specter of a nation cleaved in three along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Iraq's new Parliament is scheduled today to hold its second session amid hopes that lawmakers can decide on a new prime minister, president and speaker of Parliament — the first steps toward forming a new government. It failed to make any progress in its first session last week.

The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, called on lawmakers to attend the meeting and forge an agreement on new leaders. He warned of dire consequences if the current political deadlock drags on.

"It will only serve the interests of those who seek to divide the people of Iraq and destroy their chances for peace and prosperity," he said in a statement. "Iraq needs a team that can bring people together."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has ruled the country since 2006, is under pressure to step aside. His government's inability to prevent the attack, let alone roll back the militant advance, has sapped public — and international — confidence in his ability to hold Iraq together and lift it out of the crisis.

Al-Maliki's opponents, and even many of his former allies, accuse him of trying to monopolize power and alienating the Sunni community, and are pushing him to not seek a third consecutive term. Al-Maliki has so far refused to withdraw his candidacy, saying his bloc captured the most seats in April elections.

The militants, who have tapped into the deep disaffection among Iraq's minority Sunnis with al-Maliki, have swept through most of the country's predominantly Sunni areas in the north and west. The front lines have largely stabilized since their offensive encountered greater resistance in majority Shiite areas, although heavy fighting rages on.

On Saturday, Iraqi troops supported by Shiite militiamen battled Sunni militants who had seized at least partial control of a military base outside the town of Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The troops and pro-government fighters succeeded in pushing insurgents out of the nearby hamlet of Nofal, police officials said.

Police and hospital officials said 31 pro-government fighters — a mix of soldiers and militiamen — were killed in the fighting. They said a family of five, including three children, was killed in government airstrikes on Nofal.

Killings in Baghdad: Gunmen in four-wheel drive vehicles raided two buildings in a housing complex in Baghdad late Saturday, killing at least 33 people, including 29 women, police said. They said at least 18 people were wounded. The motive behind the killings was not clear, but police said there are suspicions that the buildings were being used as a brothel.

Comments
The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The best weapon against the NFL's evolving offenses, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher said, is a defender who can do it all — someone who can cover a tight end, shadow a receiver or blitz the backfield."The way the game is played now on defense," Fishe...
Updated: 3 minutes ago

Dade City may add code enforcement magistrate

DADE CITY — The city is poised to put more teeth into its code enforcement by setting up a system to handle major problem cases.Dade City Commissioners on Tuesday approved on first reading an ordinance that allows the city manager to place certain co...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Two hospitalized after crash on Bayside Bridge

Two hospitalized after crash on Bayside Bridge

CLEARWATER — Two Brandon men were hospitalized Tuesday night after they lost control of their car and crashed into trees on the south end of the Bayside Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.At 8:15 p.m., 19-year-old Coi Jenkins was driving...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Seminole Heights murder suspect to undergo psychological exam

Seminole Heights murder suspect to undergo psychological exam

TAMPA — A judge appointed a psychologist Wednesday to determine if the man accused of four Seminole Heights murders is mentally ill.Hillsborough Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe approved a request from attorneys for Howell Emanuel Donaldson III to have Dr. R...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Hernando School Board okays second district-wide survey to evaluate superintendent

Hernando School Board okays second district-wide survey to evaluate superintendent

BROOKSVILLE — A second district-wide survey to evaluate the performance of Superintendent Lori Romano soon will go out to about 3,000 Hernando County School District employees, giving them a chance to weigh in on the job she is doing.The instrument, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Memorials, crisis counselors at Lakewood, day after student dies in crash

Memorials, crisis counselors at Lakewood, day after student dies in crash

ST. PETERSBURG — Memorials are building and crisis counselors were at Lakewood High School on Wednesday morning, a day after a student was killed and two others seriously injured in a crash Tuesday afternoon.The fatal crash occurred just before 2 p.m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Carlton: The zoo is changing, but don’t worry. The meerkats are on it.

Carlton: The zoo is changing, but don’t worry. The meerkats are on it.

The other day I stopped to check on some progress. And got to see a meerkat, too.Progress in Tampa these days usually refers to the development of Vinikville — excuse me, Water Street Tampa — along the south edge of downtown.Or what will allegedly be...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Anyone whose childhood began in or after the early 1970s probably knows at least one or two Schoolhouse Rock! songs, the ones that taught children multiplication tables, civics lessons and basic grammar. In fact, reading that sentence probably has yo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hit parade? More of a pitching parade for Land O’Lakes

Hit parade? More of a pitching parade for Land O’Lakes

LAND O'LAKES — Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Land O'Lakes High School baseball pitchers have compiled a team earned-run average of 1.37, a stunningly good number."It's funny, because that might be our batting average at...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Rick Stroud answers your NFL draft questions in this mailbag segment, including who the Bucs might take with the seventh overall pick, which running backs they might be looking at, whether Taven Bryan could slip to them in the second r...
Updated: 3 hours ago