The US and Canada were investigating what led an American fighter jet to bomb Canadian troops engaged in a live-fire training exercise near Kandahar, Afghanistan. The bombing early Thursday killed four soldiers and injured eight others. Pentagon officials said the F-16 pilot apparently mistook the exercise for hostile fire. President Bush telephoned Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to offer condolences for one of the deadliest friendly-fire incidents of the more than six-month-long Afghan campaign.
In what would be a defeat for Bush's energy policy, the Senate was expected to reject a Republican proposal to grant oil companies access to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Results of the vote were not yet available as the Monitor went to press. Bush and many GOP senators maintain the billions of barrels of oil believed to lie in the area are vital to ease the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and would create jobs. Many Democrats, backed by environmentalists, say the refuge doesn't contain enough oil to justify the potential hazards drilling would pose to wildlife and wilderness.
Colombia deserves more US help to fight drug traffickers and terrorists, Bush said after a White House meeting with visiting President Andres Pastrana. Bush urged Congress to lift restrictions on Colombia's use of US helicopters and other antinarcotics aid in its battle against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). FARC appears on the State Department's list of terrorist groups and allegedly is funded by drug trafficking, a claim also made against the country's right-wing militias.
A new military command will be created in October to defend domestic territory, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announced Wednesday. The Northern Command is part of a broader overhaul in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and would not violate a 19th century ban on using federal troops as domestic police, he said. The command would function "in a supporting role to civil authorities" in case federal, state, or local officials ask for help coping with a terrorist threat or attack.
After a federal judge upheld Oregon's assistated-suicide law, the Justice Department said it was considering an appeal. The Portland, Ore., judge ruled Wednesday that Attorney General Ashcroft overstepped his authority with a November directive that said doctors who prescribe lethal doses of medication for patients diagnosed as terminally ill are violating federal drug law. Oregon is the only state to have legalized physician-assisted suicide, through voter-approved initiatives in 1994 and 1997. (Story, page 2.)
New claims for unemployment benefits inched up by a seasonally adjusted 1,000, to 445,000 last week, the Labor Department reported. One government analyst attributed the rise to a refile requirement in Bush's recent 13-week extention of jobless benefits.
The Rattlesnake Roundup this weekend in Alamogordo, N.M., is expected to draw 6,000 visitors, and complaints from animal rights advocates and the state's land commissioner, Ray Powell. Powell says the annual haul of 1,200 rattlers is cruel and removes a predator that keeps down the rodent population. Supporters say most of the snakes come from private land, where they pose a risk to families, pets, and livestock.