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Nation And World In Brief

Train derails in Pakistan, 56 dead

MEHRABPUR, Pakistan &

An express train crowded with holiday travelers derailed in southern Pakistan today, killing at least 56 people and leaving hundreds of terrified survivors to claw their way out of the wreckage in total darkness.

The train, which derailed at about 2 a.m., was loaded with an estimated 900 passengers, many of them heading home for the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Adha.

Dozens of soldiers and police helped tend the injured and carry them away to waiting ambulances, as hundreds of people from the surrounding villages looked on. Army engineers used two cranes and cutting equipment to free the last survivors.

Passenger Mohammed Yusuf sat on a pink blanket next to a pile of discarded shoes and clothes, wailing in grief at the death of his younger brother.

He said his wife, two children and another brother were injured and taken to a hospital but their conditions were unknown. Yusuf, 26, said his brother survived the impact and was crying out in pain, but that he had been unable to free his trapped leg.

House to vote on $70B for Iraq


The Democratic-controlled House is expected to give President Bush an end-of-session victory in his yearlong battle with anti-war lawmakers over Iraq by approving $70 billion for U.S. military operations there and in Afghanistan.

The vote today also would represent the final step in sealing a deal between Democrats and Bush over how much money to provide domestic agencies whose budgets are set each year by Congress. The Iraq funds have been bundled with an omnibus appropriations measure to create a massive $555 billion package that Bush has signaled he will sign.

Providing the war funds was a bitter pill for most Democrats, who on Monday sent the Senate a bill limited to $31 billion for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, which have much broader support than the unpopular mission in Iraq.

That effort was doomed in the face of a Bush veto promise and a filibuster by Senate Republicans. The Senate rewrote the measure Tuesday night by a bipartisan tally and dropped the combined Iraq and Afghanistan funding in the House's lap as one of the last votes before most senators left Washington for the year.

"Even those of us who have disagreed on this war have always agreed on one thing: Troops in the field will not be left without the resources they need," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

7.2 temblor strikes Alaska


A large earthquake rattled Alaska's seismically active Aleutian Islands, but there were no immediate reports of any damages or injuries.

The magnitude-7.2 quake struck at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and was centered about 125 miles west of Adak in the island chain, according to a preliminary report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

"" The Associated Press

A dispatcher with the Anchorage Police Department said he didn't feel the quake, some 1,300 miles away, and there were no reports of any injuries or damages.

The Aleutian Islands are a chain of more than 300 islands that extend southwestward from Alaska into the northern Pacific Ocean.

A tsunami warning was canceled early Wednesday for Alaska's coasts after officials determined waves from the earthquake posed no widespread destructive threat.

Exit polls show former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung-bak winning South Korean presidency

SEOUL, South Korea &

Exit polls showed Lee Myung-bak winning South Korea's presidential election by a landslide Wednesday, as voters overlooked fraud allegations in hope the former Hyundai CEO will revive the economy.

Lee of the conservative Grand National Party received 50.3 percent of the vote, according to an exit poll sponsored jointly by TV stations KBS and MBC.

The next closest candidate, liberal Chung Dong-young, had 26 percent, and independent Lee Hoi-chang was third with 13.5 percent.

The poll of 70,000 people had a margin of error of plus or minus — percentage point.

The results were similar to an exit poll by TV station SBS that had Lee winning with 51.3 percent of the vote. YTN news channel's exit poll put Lee on top with 49 percent.

AP NewsBreak: U.S. commanders in Baghdad angered to learn of Turkey bombing flight after fact


U.S. military commanders in Iraq didn't know Turkey was sending warplanes to bomb in northern Iraq until the planes had already crossed the border, said defense and diplomatic officials, who were angered about being left in the dark.

Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. And a "coordination center" has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, two officials said Tuesday.

Defense and diplomatic officials in Washington and Baghdad told The Associated Press that U.S. commanders in Iraq knew nothing about Sunday's attack until it was already under way.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Their comments follow complaints by Iraqi leaders Monday that Turkey hadn't coordinated with Baghdad before sending bombers to strike targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

House plans vote to stave off expansion of alternative minimum tax that would impact millions


After agonizing for weeks, the House planned to vote Wednesday on legislation that would protect more than 20 million people from seeing their tax bill balloon this year as a result of the dreaded alternative minimum tax.

One of Congress' last acts before it closes shop for the year, passage of the bill providing a one-year stay on growth of the AMT was a political must: Neither party wanted to leave Washington taking blame for a tax increase, averaging $2,000 a person, that would affect millions. House passage would send the bill to President Bush.

The last-minute nature of the vote on the AMT fix resulted from a fundamental difference between the House and Senate. House Democrats had insisted that the $50 billion in tax relief resulting from the one-year fix must be paid for by an equivalent amount of revenue elsewhere, mainly by closing a loophole on offshore tax havens.

Senate Republicans, however, have blocked the Senate from taking up legislation that includes a tax increase, and Bush threatened to veto any bill that raised taxes.

On Tuesday night the Senate for a second time rejected the House-backed approach of a paid-for AMT bill. The House Democratic leadership, which was committed to paying for the tax relief, had asked the Senate to make one last stab at the issue. The Senate vote was 48-46 for the House bill, 12 short of the 60 needed to approve it.

Disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway becomes a cold case in Aruba


Prosecutors dismissed the case against the three main suspects in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, saying they still believe they were involved in her death but can't prove it after 932 days of searching failed to turn up a body.

The three young men were re-arrested last month after prosecutors in Aruba discovered online chat sessions they hoped would break the case open. But none of the men talked in custody, and without the 18-year-old's body, prosecutors said they had no recourse but to halt the most notorious missing persons case in the Caribbean.

If the three suspects were put on trial, the lack of evidence "would lead to an acquittal," the Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

Moving Holloway into the cold-case files "is a tough burden to bear" for her parents, they acknowledged Tuesday, but the prosecutors said they had little choice.

"The public prosecutor's office and the police have gone the extra mile and have exhausted all their powers and techniques in order to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the girl," the statement read.

Jamie Lynn Spears, 16-year-old sister of Britney, says she's pregnant


Another Spears baby is reportedly on the way &

and it's not Britney's. Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star and sister of Britney, told OK! magazine that she's pregnant and that the father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.

"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," she said. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he."

Spears is 12 weeks along and initially kept the news to herself when she learned of the pregnancy from an at-home test and subsequent doctor visit, she told the celebrity magazine, which hits stands in New York on Wednesday and the rest of the country by Friday.

What message does she want to send to other teens about premarital sex? "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," she told the magazine. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in."

After she found out from a doctor that she was pregnant, she said, "I took two weeks to myself where I didn't tell anybody."