Nation/World Briefs

Pentagon bans mortar after explosion kills 7

HAWTHORNE, Nev. – A mortar shell explosion killed at least seven Marines and injured several more during mountain warfare training in Nevada’s high desert, prompting the Pentagon to immediately halt the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said Tuesday.

The explosion occurred Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a sprawling facility used by troops heading overseas, during an exercise involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Several Marines from the unit were injured in the blast, authorities said.

Bombings in Iraq kill 65 a decade after invasion

BAGHDAD – Insurgents sent a bloody message on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, carrying out a wave of bombings across the country Tuesday that killed at least 65 people in the deadliest day in Iraq this year.

The nearly 20 attacks, most of them in and around Baghdad, demonstrated in stark terms how dangerously divided Iraq remains more than a year after American troops withdrew. More than 240 people were reported wounded. It was Iraq’s bloodiest day since Sept. 9, when an onslaught of bombings and shootings killed 92.

Progress slows to avoid government shutdown

WASHINGTON – A dispute about budget cuts that threaten dozens of smaller control towers with closure slowed Senate progress Tuesday on legislation to avoid a government shutdown March 27.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., refused repeatedly to permit final passage of the measure unless Democrats first allow a vote on his plan for erasing most of the cuts aimed at towers operated by Federal Aviation Administration contract employees.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., just as persistently declined to give in, and other Democrats said House Republicans had rejected calls to give all federal agencies the type of budget flexibility that Moran was seeking.

Mark Sanford advances to GOP runoff in S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford advanced Tuesday to a runoff in the Republican contest for an open congressional seat along the state’s southern coast, taking a step toward reviving a political career that was derailed by an extramarital affair while he was governor.

“Are you ready to change things in Washington?” Sanford, flanked by his four sons, asked a boisterous crowd at a restaurant in Charleston’s historic district. “I’m incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support we have seen tonight.”

Based on unofficial results with all precincts reporting, it was unclear who Sanford would face in the April 2 GOP runoff. But the eventual Republican candidate will square off against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Associated Press