Morning Buzz: July 20, 2007

The White House issued a new assertion of executive privilege yesterday in the congressional investigation into the U.S. attorney firings, saying the Justice Department could not pursue charges of contempt of Congress against administration officials whom the president has prevented from testifying in the case.

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The White House issued a new assertion of executive privilege yesterday in the congressional investigation into the U.S. attorney firings, saying the Justice Department could not pursue charges of contempt of Congress against administration officials whom the president has prevented from testifying in the case.

Experts are scratching their heads over why the commercial airliner carrying 186 people crashed in Brazil earlier this week had one of its thrust reversers deactivated. The devices are used to slow the plane once it has landed on the runway.

The long debate within the scientific community over the origin of the first humans could be drawing to a close, claims one team of researchers, as they present evidence supporting the "out of Africa" theory based on analysis of male skulls that show a gradual decline in diversity as they get farther from southeast Africa. Others who support the idea that humans independently evolved in several locations dispute the evidence.

Israel has freed around 250 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom were affiliated with the secular Fatah party headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. The move is largely seen as an effort to bolster Abbas's attempts to maintain power against the Hamas party.