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BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

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KORVA COLEMAN: Thank you, Mike, and good morning, everyone. Flooding continues to threaten hundreds of communities along the Mississippi River. Iowa has been inundated with floodwaters, and town has been - or rather, towns have been submerged, along with the city of Cedar Rapids. Adriene Hill of Chicago Public Radio is in Quincy, Illinois, where thousands of sandbags have been laid against the water.

ADRIENE HILL: Here in Quincy, officials say they've done just about all the sandbagging they can do locally. Now, they just to have to wait for the river. Volunteers like Troy McNay are still filling sandbags.

Mr. TROY MCNAY (Volunteer, Quincy, Illinois): You know, we're all in this together. And you know, the other communities are doing what they can do to help us. There were some people down from Cedar Rapids, I know, over the weekend, and you know, something we can do here will help somebody further down the line. That's what it's about.

HILL: The bags are being shipped north and south in Illinois, and across the river to Missouri.

COLEMAN: Adriene Hill reporting. President Bush is poised to urge Congress to drop its ban against offshore drilling for oil. A White House spokeswoman says Mr. Bush believes Congress should stop wasting time and allow companies to drill off the east and west coasts of the United States, in hopes of finding new oil that could eventually help lower gas prices at the pumps. The driving club, AAA, estimates that currently the average price for a gallon of gas is a little more than four dollars at the pump.

A new military offensive is underway in southern Afghanistan between NATO troops and Taliban rebels outside Kandahar. NPR's Ivan Watson is in the area, just north of the city.

IVAN WATSON: You may be able to hear the sound of warplanes rumbling overhead. There have been attack helicopters circling over the valley, and there's a major military operation going on here. We've seen conveys of Canadian armored personnel carriers, of Afghan national army soldiers moving in and out of this valley, and villagers coming out describing clashes taking place, and now we see what appears to be a government and NATO push to try to clear out the Taliban from these villages.

COLEMAN: NPR's Ivan Watson outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. U.S. military officials suspect a huge bombing in Baghdad yesterday was at the hands of the Shiite militia group. More than 60 people were killed. Officials say they've evidence the bombing was ordered by the leader of a Shiite cell in Iraq that supports Iran. And that the cell's goal is to insight Shiite violence against Sunni Muslims, who are trying to go back home in that neighborhood. Witnesses say the bombing could also have been aimed a meeting between U.S. and Iraqi military leaders and local leaders that was supposed to be held nearby.

And the head of an African observer mission to Zimbabwe is warning he might not certify that country's upcoming presidential runoff election as fair and free. Marwick Khumalo says current levels of violence are interfering with a fair vote. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe blames the county's opposition party for the violence, but Khumalo says it is Mugabe's government that must take responsibility for stopping horrific attacks on civilians. Remember, the news is always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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