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Top of the News

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The latest headlines.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Thanks, Alison. The southern Iraqi city of Basra is still rife with violence today as the Iraqi government continues its crackdown on Shiite militants in the area. Reports say one of Iraq's two main oil export pipelines was blown up today, which could severely curtail Iraq's crude oil exports. Iraqi authorities imposed curfews across southern Iraq to try to halt the violence.

More than a hundred people have been killed, and hundreds wounded, in clashes which have divided Iraq's majority Shiite community, and destroyed a ceasefire declared last year by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Residents of Basra have described the fighting there as the worst since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Three U.S. lawmakers traveled to Iraq in 2002 during the run-up to the U.S. invasion. According to the Associated Press, that trip was paid for by Saddam Hussein. According to the Associated Press, a recently unsealed indictment reveals that Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a visit for three members of Congress.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment, but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Representatives Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan, and Mike Thompson of California. During that trip, the congressmen made comments urging a diplomatic solution to the U.S. standoff with Iraq. The Justice Department says they do not believe any of the lawmakers knew who had funded their 2002 trip.

G.O.P. White House hopeful John McCain gave a major foreign policy address yesterday, urging more collaboration between the United States and other countries to confront challenges like terrorism and global warming. Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY: A senior advisor says John McCain has a more consultive approach to foreign policy than the Bush administration. That was evident in McCain's speech at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles. McCain says the U.S. must lead in the 21st century, but it doesn't have to do so alone.

(Soundbite of speech)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want. Nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.

HORSLEY: The invasion of Iraq angered some allies, but McCain argues it would irresponsible now for the U.S. to withdraw troops prematurely.

MARTIN: NPR's Scott Horsley reporting there. The family of a woman who died last year while in police custody at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona, has filed an eight million dollar lawsuit against that city and its police department. Carol Gotbaum, a 45-year-old mother of three from New York, had been traveling to Tuscan, Arizona, to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program.

She was taken into police custody at the airport after she missed her flight, and went into a rage. She was placed in a holding cell and left alone. A few hours later, she was found dead. The suit alleges that the police used excessive and unreasonable force on Gotbaum. Authorities said her death was an accidental hanging.

And finally, they're home. Space shuttle Endeavor landed back at Kennedy Space Center overnight, bringing seven astronauts safely back to Earth. Here's NPR's David Kestenbaum.

DAVID KESTENBAUM: This was the 16th night landing at Kennedy Space Center. Bright lights on the runway gave the landing a theatrical quality. Power units gave off small bursts of flames on the shuttle after it rolled to a stop. Mission did not have any major snags. A bit of space debris apparently left a small ding on one the windows, but engineers determined it wasn't a problem.

The crew delivered part of a Japanese science lab and a robot named "Dextre" to the Space Station. Dextre is Canadian, has two hands, two extendable 11-foot arms, and will eliminate the need for some space walks. NASA has a special shuttle mission scheduled for later this year to upgrade and repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Ten more flights are currently on the manifest to finish the International Space Station. NASA plans to retire the shuttle in about two years.

MARTIN: NPR's David Kestenbaum reporting. And that's the news. It's always online at npr.org.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

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