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Palestinian ambassador was holding explosive device when he died, Czech police say

PRAGUE — The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, who was killed Jan. 1 in an explosion in his new residence here, most likely died after an explosive device he was holding detonated, the Czech police said Monday.

Initial reports suggested that the ambassador, Jamal al-Jamal, was killed by a security system attached to a safe that had just been moved into the new quarters from the old Palestinian mission and residence.

“This option was eliminated, among others, based on trial explosions conducted within a safe,” said a police spokeswoman, Andrea Zoulova, which indicated that the explosive device was neither in the safe nor attached to it when the explosion occurred.

The ambassador was apparently holding the device when it detonated, she said, adding that further examinations were underway.

Some Palestinian officials had said the safe had not been opened for decades, while others said it was used daily.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding unregistered weapons found on the premises.

Palestinian authorities say they were gifts from officials of the former Communist Czechoslovakia, which supported the Palestine Liberation Organization and allowed it to maintain an embassy.

—Hana De Goeij, The New York Times

Judge won’t block Arizona rules on abortion drugs

A federal judge in Tucson, Ariz., has refused to block some of the strictest rules in the nation on the use of abortion drugs.

The rules, which were approved by the Arizona Legislature in 2012 and will take effect Tuesday, restrict the use of medication to induce abortions during the early stages of pregnancy to the first seven weeks.

The rules also restrict the use of the drug, mifepristone, to protocols approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. That early approval called for the drug to be given in higher doses than is customary today, and only in doctors’ offices. Since those rules were first approved, doctors have found that a lower dose of the drug is effective, and that it can be safely taken outside of doctors’ offices.

The new restrictions, argued Planned Parenthood, one of the plaintiffs in the case, would force many women to undergo unnecessary surgical abortions, and would prevent some women from getting an abortion at all — especially in northern Arizona, where the only abortion provider offers only the medication route.

The plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order to block the rules while a legal challenge could work its way through the courts.

In denying the request Monday, Judge David C. Bury of U.S. District Court wrote that Arizona’s rules will not unduly burden a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, since the alternative of surgical abortions remains available. The fact that some women may have to travel hundreds of miles to clinics, twice, under the restrictions, and that the process will cost more, he wrote, “do not qualify as irreparable harm.”

Similar laws have been overturned in North Dakota and annulled by Oklahoma’s Supreme Court.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, “It is outrageous that politicians are interfering in a doctor’s ability to provide the highest quality medical care for women in Arizona.”

—John Schwartz, The New York Times

US to require rearview cameras in new cars by 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a long-awaited final rule Monday requiring vehicles to be equipped with what regulators call rear visibility technology.

The technology is expected to significantly reduce fatalities and serious injuries caused by a driver backing over a person, particularly a young child, who cannot be seen behind a vehicle.

The final rule requires all new vehicles less than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, including passenger vehicles, buses and trucks, to have this technology in place by May 2018.

In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring the Transportation Department to issue a federal safety standard on the issue by 2011.

The rule was delayed several times, spurring a coalition of safety advocates to sue the agency over the delays.

A federal appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday on whether to order the Transportation Department to issue the standard.

The final rule amends the current federal motor vehicle standard by expanding the area behind a vehicle that must be visible to the driver when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.

That field of view must include a 10-foot-by-20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. The system used must meet other requirements as well, including the size of the image displayed for the driver.

According to the safety regulators, automakers will use rearview video systems and in-vehicle displays to meet the requirements in the near term.

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries each year were caused by these back-overs, and that children younger than 5 account for 31 percent of back-over fatalities each year.

The new rule satisfies the mandate of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, which was named for a 2-year-old boy who was run over and killed by his father, Dr. Greg Gulbransen, in his driveway in 2002.

—Cheryl Jensen, The New York Times