As recent bloodshed raises fears of renewed sectarian violence in Iraq, U.S. Vice President Biden has been calling Iraqi leaders in an apparent attempt to soothe political tensions, the White House said Saturday.
Biden telephoned Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama Nujaifi on Saturday and, a day earlier, spoke with Dr. Ayad Allawi, a leader of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc.
"The two Iraqi leaders described deliberations under way among all Iraqi political factions and parties in the run-up to a proposed national conference led by President Jalal Talabani," the White House statement said. "The vice president discussed with both leaders the importance of resolving outstanding issues through the political process. The vice president and Iraqi leaders agreed to stay in close touch as events unfold."
In the latest in a series of attacks this year, a suicide car bomber killed at least 31 people and injured 60 more in a Shiite funeral procession in Baghdad on Friday, two police officials said. The bombing occurred as mourners were heading toward a hospital in Baghdad's Zafarniya district to recover the bodies of relatives shot the night before, officials said.
Scores of Occupy protesters marched through the streets of Oakland, California, on Saturday afternoon, planning to take over a building that will serve as their new home base.
Aerial video showed the activists proceeding through the city's streets, many of them toting signs while others carried what appeared to be supplies.
While touting the action as "Move-In Day" on their website, occupyoaklandmoveinday.org, organizers have not stated what vacant building they plan to occupy. They also acknowledged that "like the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza, the building move-in is not legal."
But the group said the move was necessary, in part because "since November, the city of Oakland and its police force have made it impossible for us to meet, to serve food, and to provide a place for people to stay."
Sunny skies, a large billowing U.S. flag and an appreciative crowd greeted hundreds of Iraq war veterans who marched Saturday in St. Louis in a first-of-its kind "welcome home" ceremony.
Some participants rode motorcycles, while others rode in military trucks or on floats.
Many more veterans walked, waving to thousands who lined downtown streets.
Even a local institution, Anheuser-Busch's Clydesdale horse team, took part in "Welcome Home the Heroes."
Grassroots organizers billed the parade and related activities as the first such event in a major U.S. city.FULL STORY
About 300 mourners remembered legendary singer Etta James on Saturday as an authentic voice whose velvety vocals bridged genres from blues to rock.
Another legendary singer, Stevie Wonder, gave a musical tribute to James at her funeral: He played the electronic keyboard and sang his "Shelter in the Rain." He then performed on the harmonica and sang The Lord's Prayer.
Also performing at the service was Christina Aguilera, who sang James' signature song "At Last" and ended her rendition to a standing audience with a farewell directed at James' casket: "May you rest in peace."
The Rev. Al Sharpton presided over the funeral in southern California where James was raised, and he began the service by reading aloud a note from President Barack Obama, who said that James' talents transcended genres.FULL STORY
(CNN) - Despite being accused of child sex abuse, Jerry Sandusky is asking a judge to modify the terms of his bail so he can see his grandchildren, according to court documents.
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was charged in November with sexually abusing young boys over a 14-year period. Prosecutors contend he met many of the boys through his charity, The Second Mile.
Sandusky, who has pleaded innocent, was released on a $100,000 bail in November and barred by a Pennsylvania judge from having unsupervised visits with his grandchildren. The judge also prohibited the children from staying overnight at Sandusky's home.FULL STORY