World and Nation

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Barrage of Mortar Attacks in Baghdad Kills Four U.S. Soldiers

Four U.S. soldiers were killed by rocket or mortar attacks in Baghdad on Monday, a day after a dust storm blanketed the city and provided cover for fierce shelling of the fortified Green Zone and assaults on American and Iraqi forces.

Three of the soldiers were killed in the southeastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The other soldier died in Kadhimiya, in the northern part of the capital.

A rocket attack also wounded U.S. soldiers on Monday at a small frontline base in the Sadr City neighborhood, where U.S. and Iraqi troops have been battling militia fighters loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for more than a month. U.S. military officials said that for security reasons, they could not confirm the injuries.

On Sunday afternoon, as a dense and gritty orange cloud of dust settled over Baghdad, grounding military helicopters, a hail of shells arced toward the Green Zone, with the barrage continuing into the early hours of Monday. Sporadic rocket and mortar fire continued throughout the day. No U.S. casualties were reported.

Senate Democrats Calling for More Food Assistance

Citing hunger riots in developing countries and soaring grain prices around the world, Senate Democrats called Monday for a swift increase of $200 million in foreign food aid, on top of an additional $350 million that President Bush has requested in a supplemental spending measure.

In response, the administration urged Congress to give it more flexibility to buy food for donation from local and regional providers, a method that anti-hunger experts say is cheaper and more efficient than buying and shipping American commodities, as well as encouraging agricultural development

This month, Bush directed the Agriculture Department to release $200 million in commodities to address the crisis, and Monday the U.S. Agency for International Development said it was coordinating that program in addition to $40 million in emergency food aid.

AID said the U.N. World Food Program and private organizations would deliver those resources to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Obama Distances Himself After Pastor’s Latest Remarks

If it was not clear before Monday, Sen. Barack Obama said, it should be clear now: His presidential campaign has no control over what the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., his former pastor, says or what he does.

“He does not speak for me,” he said. “He does not speak for the campaign. He may make statements in the future that don’t reflect my values or concerns.” “I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we’re not coordinating with him, right?” Obama said.

Obama made his remarks at a hastily called news conference on the tarmac of the airport here late in the day, with the engines of his campaign plane buzzing in the background. His decision to address the issue directly reflected the extent to which Wright has emerged once again as a problem for his campaign.

And at a sensitive time: Obama has been seeking to appeal to white, blue-collar voters who voted in big numbers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania, and is trying to convince uncommitted superdelegates to rally to his side.