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RACHEL MARTIN, host:
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Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki, met face-to-face with opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday. It was the first meeting between the two leaders since the disputed election on December 27th that international observers say was flawed. Former UN chief Kofi Annan mediated, but the whole thing turned out to be little more than a photo opportunity.
According to reports, the two met briefly and shook hands afterwards. But by at the end of the day, the leaders were blaming each other for using the event to their own political advantage. The political strife has launched weeks of ethnic violence in Kenya that's left close to 1,000 people dead and many more displaced. Violence continues today. Seven people have been killed around the town of Nakuru. Residents there say members of Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group waged the attack against people thought to be opposition supporters.
And over to Lebanon, where a bomb blast went off in Beirut today, killing at least five people including a top police official who dealt with terrorist operations. The blast ripped through morning traffic below an overpass in a mainly Christian part of Beirut. Captain Wissam Eid was on his way to work when the explosion hit his car. Eid worked for an intelligence unit widely viewed as anti-Syrian. The explosion occurred 10 days after a car bomb damaged a U.S. diplomatic car in the Lebanese capital, killing three people and wounding 16.
Over to this country now, where economists are weighing in on the stimulus package that President Bush and congressional leaders approved yesterday. Under the deal, you, me and pretty much everyone who gets a paycheck will get a check in the mail for as much as $600 from the federal government, up to 1,200 bucks for couples. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers will vote as quickly as possible to approve the plan.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House of Representatives): This bipartisan package should be acted upon rapidly and can help alleviate the economic pain felt by millions of Americans.
MARTIN: Economists agree that some kind of stimulus package is necessary, but those with a liberal bent say the plan doesn't do enough for the unemployed, and conservative economists say the plan doesn't make tax cuts longterm.
Finally today, one of the primary architects of the Iraq war, Paul Wolfowitz, is back working for the Bush administration again. Wolfowitz left his post as second in command at the Pentagon and went to run the World Bank. Wolfowitz stepped down from that job last June in the wake of a nepotism scandal. This week, the Department of State announced that Wolfowitz is back in the fold. He's accepted a job as a top security adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He'll focus his work on Iran and North Korea.
That's the news. It's always online at npr.org.
WOLFF: This is NPR.
MARTIN: Alison and Toure.
STEWART: Thank you, Rachel Martin.
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