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News Wrap: Biden Visits Iraq to Quash Election Dispute

January 22, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad Friday hoping to ease tensions before the March elections, and Britain raised its terror threat level to "severe."
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Baghdad, hoping to ease a dispute that threatens plans for March elections in Iraq. It centers on blacklisting more than 500 candidates for suspected links to Saddam Hussein’s regime. Sunni Muslims were dominant under Saddam, and they say the purge is too broad. Biden flew in this evening for a two-day visit. But an Iraqi spokesman warned, nobody can interfere in Iraqi affairs, Biden or others.

Britain today raised its terror threat level from substantial to severe. That’s the second highest level on the British scale. The country’s home secretary provided no details on what prompted the change. Instead, he said an attack is highly likely, but there’s no indication that one is imminent.

Airports across India went on high alert today on word militants linked to al-Qaida might hijack planes. There were more armed guards outside airports, and passengers had to go through extra security screenings once inside. In addition, extra sky marshals were placed on planes. The home ministry said the focus was on Air India and Indian Airlines flights.

U.K. BANSAL, special secretary, ministry of home affairs, India: We suspect that there can be an attempt to target one of our airlines, especially those that fly abroad outside India. And we have alerted our agencies to be careful on anti-hijacking measures.

HARI SREENIVASAN: India has been largely free of terror attacks since militants rampaged through Mumbai for three days in November of 2008 — 166 people were killed.

A Kansas court heard opening statements today in the murder of an abortion provider in Wichita. Scott Roeder has confessed to killing Dr. George Tiller at a church last May. He is charged with premeditated first-degree murder. But the defense argues it was voluntary manslaughter to save the unborn. Tiller specialized in performing late-term abortions. His clinic closed after his death.

Thousands rallied in Washington in the annual March For Life. It was the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. The anti-abortion crowd rallied at the White House, and then moved on to the Supreme Court. A handful of abortion rights supporters were also present.

Downpours eased today as the latest Pacific storm moved out of Southern California. The risk for mudslides and flooding remained, especially for residents in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. A state of emergency was declared in five counties, after nearly 10 inches of rain this week. Still, local officials said many evacuation orders in Los Angeles County will soon be lifted.