Complaining that "we don't have security," the remaining Sunni Muslims on the committee drafting Iraq's new constitution suspended their participation Wednesday, a day after two colleagues were assassinated in Baghdad. Two other Sunnis on the commitee already had quit, citing threats against them. The move deepened concerns that the vital draft will not be completed in time to be voted on in a national referendum in October - a step that, in turn, is necessary prior to elections for a new government two months later.
By votes of 69-40, 69-41, and 68-43, Israel's parliament rejected three bills Wednesday that would have postponed next month's evacuation of settlers - and the defense forces who protect them - from the Gaza Strip. The measures were the last possible opportunity to halt the pullout by political means and virtually assures that it will begin on schedule Aug. 17.
A database of Muslim clerics and others accused of inciting terrorism will be developed by the British government, Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced. Its purpose, he said, will be to keep such people out of Britain. The government also moved closer to a deal to deport to their home country Jordanian nationals who are seen as a menace in the wake of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair floated the idea of an international conference on rooting out Islamic extremism.
A British Muslim sought in connection with the July 7 attacks was arrested in Pakistan as part of a crackdown on militants, intelligence sources said. They said Haroon Rashid Aswad was caught with a British passport, $17,000 in cash, and a belt packed with explosives. His name also is believed to be in a US database on terrorism.
While it will return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program next week, North Korea said it isn't "optimistic about substantial progress." It said its negotiators would ignore fellow participant Japan at the talks, accusing the latter of "standing in the way" of substantive discussions out of a desire to "serve its [own] mean interests." That is taken to mean an expected attempt to raise the issue of 13 Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s. The North has admitted to those abductions but has resisted demands for information on eight of the captives, whom it says later died.
Hurricane Emily made landfall for a second time in Mexico, battering the northeastern coast early Wednesday with 125 m.p.h. winds and rainfall that forecasters said could amount to 15 inches and cause flash flooding and landslides. It first hit Mexico Monday, causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people on the Yucatan Peninsula but relatively light damage.