World and Nation

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Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 28 In Sri Lanka

A female suicide bomber hiding among refugees fleeing the war zone in northern Sri Lanka killed at least 20 soldiers and eight civilians at a checkpoint on Monday, the government said.

A string of victories in recent weeks raised hopes that more than two decades of intermittent civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers may soon be over. But the attack raised the prospect that the Tigers would revert to their hallmark tactics of guerrilla warfare and suicide attacks if they lose control of their final patch of territory — about 100 square miles of the Jaffna Peninsula.

The attack, the first of its magnitude in a month, also left dozens wounded. It took place in the northern district of Mullaitivu in an area that the government said had been wrested from the rebels.

The bomber joined civilians being searched by government soldiers after they fled the war zone in the north of the country, where government forces have taken several rebel strongholds and pushed the rebel into a wedge. The authorities have urged noncombatants to flee into areas under the government’s control, but tens of thousands of civilians — perhaps as many as 250,000 — may be trapped.

Rodriguez Admits Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Alex Rodriguez admitted in an interview with ESPN on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs for several seasons at the beginning of this decade, but he said he has not used the substances since then.

“When I arrived at Texas in 2001 I felt an enormous amount of pressure to perform, and perform at a high level every day,” Rodriguez told Peter Gammons. “I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. I did take a banned substance, and for that I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”

The acknowledgment by Rodriguez came two days after Sports Illustrated’s Web site,, reported that Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids in 2003, when he was in his last season with the Texas Rangers and won the first of his three Most Valuable Player awards.

The next season, Rodriguez joined the Yankees. He currently is the highest paid player in baseball and widely viewed as the most talented.

Scholastic Accused of Misusing Book Clubs

Scholastic Inc., the children’s publisher of favorites like the Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Clifford series, may be best known for its books, but a consumer watchdog group accuses the company of using its classroom book clubs to push video games, jewelry kits and toy cars.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that it had reviewed monthly fliers distributed by Scholastic last year and found that one-third of the items sold in these brochures were either not books or books packaged with other items.

Based on a review of brochures in Scholastic’s Lucky Club for children in second and third grade, and its Arrow Club for fourth through sixth-graders, the group said that 14 percent of the items were not books, while an additional 19 percent were books sold with other trinkets like stickers, posters and toys.