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Briefs (left)

Americans in Iraq Face
Their Deadliest Day in Months

By Kirk Semple

In the deadliest day for American forces since the beginning of the year, at least nine members of the military were killed in the insurgent stronghold of Anbar Province, including four in a rebel attack and at least five when their truck accidentally flipped over, the American military command said Monday.

Three Marines and one sailor were killed on Sunday in the rebel assault, the military reported, offering no further information. It was the largest number of American deaths in a single attack in more than a month.

In another part of Anbar on Sunday, a flash flood toppled a seven-ton truck, killing five Marines riding inside it and wounding one, the military said. Two Marines and one Navy corpsman in the truck were missing, officials said.

Wrapping up a quick visit here, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, pressed Iraqi leaders for a second day on Monday to form a coalition government as quickly as possible, in order to end a power vacuum in which insurgent attacks, sectarian violence and general lawlessness have flourished.

Canada Scraps Plans
To Decriminalize Marijuana

By Clifford Krauss

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that he was scrapping draft legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a measure that had been strongly criticized by the Bush administration.

The move was not unexpected, because his Conservative Party had opposed the measure. But it was symbolically important coming on the first day that Canada’s new Parliament convened and only days after Harper’s first meeting as prime minister with President Bush, at a summit meeting in Mexico.

Harper announced the move during a speech to the Canadian Professional Police Association in which he pledged to toughen sentences for drug and gun crimes, tighten parole rules, strengthen controls on child pornography and expand the national databank of DNA samples for convicted criminals.

“We are going to hold criminals to account,” said Harper, who was elected in January. “If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time.”

Thai Leader Says He Will Accept
Panel’s Scrutiny

By Thomas Fuller

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory on Monday in national elections, which were boycotted by opposition groups, and said he had a mandate to remain in his post.

“I am satisfied with the result,” Thaksin said on national television, his first substantive comments since the voting on Sunday. “Sixty percent of people trust me.”

But in a concession to opposition groups that have called for his resignation, Thaksin offered to set up an independent committee to judge his fitness to rule that would be made up of former prime ministers, former supreme court justices, former members of parliament and deans from Thai universities.

“If this committee thinks that it’s better if I quit, I will go,” he said.

Thaksin said his party received 16 million votes, or 57 percent of the 28 million votes cast. Official results are expected on Tuesday.