Deadly explosions rattle Baghdad
BAGHDAD — A series of explosions in Shiite neighborhoods here killed nine people and wounded dozens more Tuesday, the latest in a wave of sectarian attacks.
No group claimed responsibility, but the bombings bore the hallmarks of others by the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq, which says it has shifted its attention to Shiites and sources of Iranian influence following the withdrawal of the U.S. military.
The violence here began early Tuesday, while many Iraqis were heading to work.
Around 7 a.m., a car bomb exploded near a gathering of day laborers in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, killing six people and wounding 23. About a half-hour later, another car bomb detonated near a bakery in the neighborhood, wounding 13.
An hour later, three explosions struck north Baghdad. A blast near a school in Shulla killed two people and wounded 10, including several students. Another person died in an explosion in the neighborhood of Hurriya.
—Yasir Ghazi and Duraid Adnan, The New York Times
French bill on genocide is denounced by Turkey
The Turkish government and news media castigated France on Tuesday, accusing the Parliament of racism and a breach of France’s own free speech principles after the French Senate passed a bill late Monday criminalizing the denial of officially recognized genocides, including the Armenian genocide begun in 1915.
Historians widely believe that some 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in what they deem the 20th century’s first genocide.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, will sign the bill into law within two weeks, an aide confirmed on Tuesday.
The bill has infuriated Turkey, which has long maintained that Armenian deaths were far fewer in number and not the result of systematic killings. Indeed, recognizing them as genocide is criminal under Turkish law, as an insult to Turkish identity.
In a speech in Ankara, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the French bill represented “evident discrimination, racism and massacre of free speech.” Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s intention to add penalties against France, though he did not specify what those sanctions might bear upon and also signaled that the government would wait to see the result of possible legal challenges to the bill in France.
—Sebnem Arsu and Scott Sayare, The New York Times
In Brazil, fears of a slide back for Amazon forest protection
SAO PAULO — Brazil has made great strides in recent years in slowing Amazon deforestation and showing the world it was serious about protecting the mammoth rainforest.
The rate of deforestation fell by 80 percent over the past six years, as the government carved out about 150 million acres for conservation — an area roughly the size of France — and used police raids and other tactics to crack down on illegal deforesters, according to both environmentalists and the government. Brazil’s former environment minister, Marina Silva, became an internationally respected defender of the Amazon. She ran for president in 2010 on the Green Party ticket and won 19.4 percent of the votes.
But since Dilma Rousseff was elected president in late 2010, there have been signs of a shift in the government’s attitude toward the Amazon. A provisional measure now allows the president to decrease the lands already created for conservation. The government is granting more flexibility for large infrastructure projects during the environmental licensing process. And a proposal would give Brazil’s Congress veto power over the recognition of indigenous territories.
—Alexei Barrionuevo, The New York Times
Lawsuit seeks records from US investigation of Toyota
DETROIT — Concerned that regulators are dismissing electronic problems in Toyota vehicles, an auto safety firm said Tuesday that it has sued the federal government to get records of its investigation into the unintended acceleration of a Prius last year.
The freedom-of-information lawsuit by the firm, Safety Research and Strategies, said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was withholding documents and videos that may depict an acceleration incident caused by electronic systems in a Prius instead of the floor mats or pedals covered by Toyota recalls.
The suit seeks transcripts, recordings, photographs and videotapes generated by a visit of two federal investigators to the home of a senior government official who had complained about sudden, unexplained acceleration of his own Prius.
—Bill Vlasic, The New York Times
Egypt military council partly curbs state of emergency law
CAIRO — The army officer acting as Egypt’s de facto head of state said Tuesday that the military government would limit its use of extra-judicial arrests and detentions to cases of what he called “thuggery.”
The officer, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, made the pledge, to curb use of Egypt’s so-called “emergency law,” in an apparent attempt to mollify discontent with the heavy-handed police tactics of the military-led government on the eve of the anniversary of the revolt that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
Rights lawyers, however, noted that the military has applied the term “thuggery” very broadly, covering street protesters and potentially anyone else it chooses. Just a few years ago, Mubarak issued a similar partial repeal of the “emergency law,” saying he would limit its application to cases of drug crimes or terrorism. But his declaration had no discernible effect.
—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times