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Wanted: New chiefs of 
staff for Obama and Biden

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are both looking for new chiefs of staff now. Those are the more prominent changes under consideration for a midterm makeover that so far suggests continuity more than a shakeup.

The potential jobs range from chief of staff, considered by many the second-most-powerful person in the White House, to perhaps the press secretary, the public face of the White House, should Robert Gibbs leave. And the openings could include a cabinet post if the current job-holder is shifted elsewhere.

With Obama back at the White House on Tuesday after a vacation in Hawaii, White House aides said some personnel decisions could be announced perhaps this week. Among the announcements expected soon is a successor to Lawrence Summers, who has returned to teach at Harvard, as the chief White House economic adviser.

The leading candidate is believed to be Gene Sperling, who held the job under President Bill Clinton and is currently a counselor to the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner. Other candidates have included Roger Altman, a Wall Street financier who was a deputy Treasury secretary under Clinton, and Richard Levin, an economist and the longtime president of Yale University.

Sharp debate surrounds 
death of Palestinian woman

BILIN, West Bank — Clashing narratives over the case of a 36-year-old Palestinian woman who died Saturday is fast making her a new symbol of the enduring conflict here, with the Israeli military anonymously casting doubt on Palestinian accounts — backed by medical documents — that she died from inhaling tear gas.

The woman’s relatives, village leaders and staff members at the hospital in Ramallah where she was treated said that she was fatally sickened by tear gas fired on Friday by Israeli forces during the weekly protest against Israel’s separation barrier in the Palestinian village of Bilin. Her mother said she and her daughter, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, were watching the protest from a distance when a cloud of tear gas wafted their way, causing her daughter to collapse.

But Israeli military officials, who insisted on anonymity while their investigation was continuing, told various journalists and bloggers that they had never heard of tear gas killing anyone in the open, and raised the possibility that she had some pre-existing ailment that, alone or compounded by the tear gas, caused her death.

Bomb in Kabul kills an officer

KABUL, Afghanistan — A bomb exploded near the Defense Ministry in downtown Kabul during rush hour on Tuesday, killing a police officer and wounding another along with two civilians, the Interior Ministry said.

A French soldier at the scene who works in bomb disposal said the blast happened at 7:56 a.m. “It was an artillery shell converted into a bomb. We don’t know yet if it was detonated by a timer or by remote control.”

Bombings are unusual in Kabul. The last major attack, against a guesthouse catering to Indians, occurred nearly 11 months ago. This one was less than a mile from the presidential palace.

“It was not a big bomb,” said the French soldier, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “They do it to terrorize people.”