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Front Page: Ceasefire in Basra, Tibet Trouble, HUD Resignation

  • Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for his followers to end fighting in Basra, the ceasefire coming after six days of violence in the port city. In return, al-Sadr is demanding concessions from Iraq’s government. Those concessions include general amnesty for his followers, release of all imprisoned members of the Sadrist movement who have not been convicted of crimes, and a return of “the displaced people who have fled their homes as a result of military operations.” In participating in negotiations with al-Sadr, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has seen a serious blow to his political reputation because he had vowed to see an end to the Basra campaign through to a military victory. The violence and ceasefire called by al-Sadr served to showcase his political and military power.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the first world leader to announce a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. She will not be attending the games, a decision made as Tibetan protests still rage, and some residents of China itself are becoming critical that their government is not being strict enough against the protesters. One Chinese woman, appalled that the Chinese government isn't acting more forcefully, said, “we couldn’t believe our government was being so weak and cowardly. The Dalai Lama is trying to separate China, and it is not acceptable at all. We must crack down on the rioters.” China reports so far it has arrested 414 protesters, with an additional 289 turning themselves in.
  • Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson is expected to resign today. In the midst of the growing mortgage crisis, the resignation removes a key administration player. Jackson has been under investigation by the Justice Department over questions that he gave lucrative housing contracts to friends.
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