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In another tumultuous day in Iraq, terrorists exploded a car bomb in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, killing at least 10 people, and Shiites thwarted a move to fast-track a decision by parliament on the fate of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Jaafari's allies voted to delay consideration of his bid for a new term until all parties in the legislature agree on who will fill the government's other leadership posts. Meanwhile, Iraq's military announced the capture of a senior ally of Al Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

An "absolute" deadline of Nov. 24 was set by the leaders of Britain and the Republic of Ireland for a return to a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. "At that point," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, "we close the chapter or we close the book" - meaning that if Protestants and Catholics can't agree to work together, direct rule from London would be ensured and the pay of Ulster's legislators would stop. Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, said the Northern Ireland assembly would be recalled May 15 to come up with an administration.

Fighting back against his critics, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin offered no apologies for the new youth-employment law that has triggered unrest across France and vowed to continue trying to solve the problem "to the end." De Villepin called joblessness among young people "totally scandalous." He said he was "listening" to opponents of the new law but avoided direct answers to questions about whether it would be withdrawn. As he spoke, however, students applied more pressure for repeal of the measure by blocking roads, trains, and the shipment of parts to the vital Airbus assembly plant.


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