Pentagon Requests Extra Blood and Plasma Supplies

The Defense Department has requested blood suppliers to provide limited amounts of blood and plasma to supplement the military's supply, the American Red Cross said yesterday.

Officials declined to say how many units of blood were requested, but they said shipments would begin next week. Blood banks hope to increase donations dramatically to keep the armed forces fully supplied.

However, officials said they would not collect more than is needed because blood must be used within six weeks of donation.

Avram Goldstein

A.I.D. Awards Health Grants

The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded one-year grants totaling $18 million to provide health care services in Iraq.

UNICEF will receive $8 million to provide basic health, water supply and sanitations services. The World Health Organization will get $10 million for programs to monitor disease, rehabilitate health facilities and train health workers.

USAID coordinates relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq for the U.S. government.

Jackie Spinner

France Hopes for U.S. Victory

Despite differences with U.S. policy, the French government said it hopes U.S.-led forces win the war in Iraq.

The Foreign Ministry said it was "indignant" at media suggestions that French support for the United States was ambiguous, and quoted Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin as saying he hoped for a U.S. victory.

"The United States, we hope, will win this war quickly," said a ministry spokesman, Francois Rivasseau, protesting coverage of Villepin's comments Wednesday in London, where the foreign minister reiterated his opposition to the war.

The ministry said some media reported that Villepin refused to say who he hoped would win the war. "It is not acceptable that the positions of France be distorted in this way," Rivasseau said.

Associated Press

Hussein's Bunker Described

The German architect of one of Saddam Hussein's bunkers said the Iraqi leader can survive most bomb attacks if he stays within the structure's four-foot-thick walls.

"It could withstand the shock wave of a nuclear bomb the size of the Hiroshima one detonating 250 meters [820 feet] away," said Karl Esser, a security consultant who designed the bunker under Saddam's main palace in Baghdad.

The bunker can accommodate 50 people and has two escape tunnels, one leading to the Tigris River. It was built in 1982-83 by the German firm Boswau & Knauer .


Blair's Approval Ratings Rise

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair's popularity rating has risen to its highest level in months, according to a published poll.

Forty-three percent of respondents surveyed by Market Opinion and Research International (MORI) said they were satisfied with the way Blair was "doing his job as prime minister." Forty-eight percent said they were dissatisfied.

It was Blair's best rating since June 2002, when 46 percent of respondents were satisfied and 47 percent were dissatisfied.

A MORI poll last month found only 31 percent of respondents were happy with his performance, and 61 percent were unhappy.


Chretien Stays Home

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has decided not to go to Washington to receive an award next month, officials said.

The National Parks Conservation Association had invited Chretien to a dinner on April 9 to celebrate his decision to create 15 more national parks.

But a spokeswoman said Chretien, who has not spoken to President Bush for more than a month, had declined the invitation.

"The prime minister did not feel it would be appropriate to receive an award for his personal achievements during a time when American women and men are engaged in a war," she said.


Professor Calls for Defeat

NEW YORK -- A Columbia University professor told an anti-war gathering that he would like to see "a million Mogadishus" -- referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that killed 18 American servicemen.

At a "teach-in" Wednesday night at the university, Nicholas De Genova also called for the defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq and said, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military."

De Genova's comments about defeating the United States in Iraq were cheered by the crowd of 3,000, Newsday reported. But his mention of the Somali ambush was met largely with silence.

The university said De Genova "was speaking as an individual" and that his statement did not "represent the views of Columbia University."

Associated Press