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Blair vs. Chirac: Was it personal?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to believe that French President Jacques Chirac was "out to get him" as the two clashed before the Iraq war, according to a new biography of Blair excerpted in the Financial Times. "Blair came to believe _ partly on the basis of reports from British intelligence _ that the dispute over Iraq was in fact a proxy for a much more serious contest," Philip Stephens, the Financial Times' political columnist, says in Tony Blair, his biography of the prime minister. "Chirac, these reports said, had decided that Blair had usurped his own position as the natural leader of Europe. It was time for the French president to reassert himself and clip the wings of perfidious Albion. In other words, this feud was personal as well as political," said the excerpt released Monday.

Steep markup for Capitol flags

An Internet company that buys American flags from lawmakers for less than $20 and then resells them for $79.99 or more has raised concerns at the Capitol. The Architect of the Capitol alerted members of Congress last week that Internet seller Capitol Flags had used "unsuspecting members' offices" to get the flags that had flown over the Capitol. Brian Walsh of the House Administration Committee said the resale is "not breaking the letter of the law" but has caused a lot of concern. It's "just price-gouging people," he said. People can buy from their congressional representative or senator a 3-foot by 5-foot flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capitol for less than $20.The same flag costs $79.99, plus $13.50 shipping and handling, when bought from Capitol Flags. Inquiries sent to the company through its contact e-mail were rejected.


Swedish art exhibit

Sweden's prime minister has been bombarded with about 14,000 e-mails from a U.S.-based Jewish human rights group protesting an art exhibit featuring the image of a Palestinian suicide bomber, the government said Tuesday. The flap threatened to overshadow a three-day international conference in Stockholm on preventing genocide that ends today.

Gadhafi keeps weapons vow

Making good on his promise to dismantle his nuclear weapons programs, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi put about 55,000 pounds of sensitive equipment and documents aboard a U.S. plane that landed in Tennessee on Tuesday, the White House announced. Nuclear scientists and intelligence analysts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are expected to pore over what could be a treasure trove of evidence about where Libya obtained the components for its weapons program. Libyan officials have said Pakistan was the source for some of the nuclear know-how.


Alfred Delucchi, a retired 72-year-old judge who has handled 22 death penalty trials, was picked Tuesday by California's chief justice to preside at Scott Peterson's murder trial. Prosecutors last week requested the previous judge be dismissed.