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Saturday, October 09, 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe 'to curb' rights groups

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe 'to curb' rights groups: "Zimbabwe 'to curb' rights groups
Zimbabwe's government is tightening restrictions on human rights groups operating in the country, reports say.
French news agency AFP says it has seen an official amendment to a bill tabled in parliament earlier this week.
The bill bans international rights groups from working in Zimbabwe and cuts foreign funding to local groups dealing with 'governance issues'.
Groups involved in educating the public on anti-corruption issues, transparency and accountability are also targeted.
The amendment proposed by Zimbabwe's social welfare ministry also means that groups involved in aiding the interests or activities of a political party will also be targeted, according to the AFP.
The Non-Governmental Organisations Bill previously had not spelled out what activities would be included under the definition of 'issues of governance'.
There are fears that hundreds of aid groups will be forced to shut down if the bill becomes law.
Correspondents say up to 10,000 jobs could be lost as the result.
The proposed bill has provoked widespread condemnation, the AFP said. "

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Afghan vote ends in controversy

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Afghan vote ends in controversy: "Afghan vote ends in controversy
Afghanistan's first-ever presidential election has passed off peacefully, but ended in controversy as opposition candidates called for a boycott.
The move followed claims of voting irregularities.
Interim President Hamid Karzai - who is expected to win - said the result should be respected and praised Afghans for participating 'massively'.
He urged everyone to await the verdict on the voting process by the joint UN-Afghan Election Commission.
The dispute centres on the supposedly indelible ink that had been dabbed on to voters' thumbs to show they voted. Many voters were able to wipe the ink off.
I don't trust these elections - I voted an hour ago but, as you can see, there is no trace of the ink on my fingers
Khwaja Malang
Tajik voter from Panjshir

Despite the wrangling among the candidates, BBC correspondents around Afghanistan have reported great levels of enthusiasm among ordinary people for the democratic process.
Mr Karzai - who has led the country since the fall of the hard-line Islamic Taleban in 2001 - bluntly dismissed the candidates' complaints.
'Who is more important, these 15 candidates or the millions of people who turned out today to vote?' he asked journalists in Kabul.
'Safe and orderly'
Mr Karzai said all the candidates 'should respect our people, because in the dust and snow and rain, they waited for hours and hours to vote'.
Earlier a senior United Nations official helping supervise the vote said that 'overall it has been safe and orderly'.
'The vote will continue because halting the vote at this stage is unjustified and would deny these people their right to vote,' Ray Kennedy said.
Security was " News - Latest News - Taiwan Grabs World's Tallest Building Title News - Latest News - Taiwan Grabs World's Tallest Building Title

A global architectural group declared the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan’s capital the world’s tallest building today.

The 1,679 feet structure – which some liken to a giant bamboo shoot of glass and steel – received the title from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based non-profit organisation involved in the planning, design and construction of skyscrapers.

“There’s no dispute whether Taipei 101 is the tallest building in the world,” said Ron Klemencic, chairman of the council, as he formally certified the building’s record with a new plaque.

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian said the new record “not only gives affirmation to Taiwan’s architectural industry, it’s also the pride and honour of Taiwan’s 23 million people.”

The 101 storey skyscraper is 184 feet taller than the previous record-holder, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Taipei 101 also claims a hat trick for having the highest structural top, tallest roof and the highest occupied floor.

It also has two of the world’s fastest lifts, which travel 3,333 feet per minute and can go from the ground floor to the 89th floor in 39 seconds.

The building features office space, a shopping mall and an observatory.

ABC News > A Prize-Winning ‘Tree Woman’ Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai Looks for Salvation in the Environment

Oct. 8, 2004 ? Today Wangari Maathai was named the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
For more than three decades, she has worked to save Africa's natural environment and improve the quality of life for women.
But the Nobel Committee's announcement today caught her completely by surprise.
"I was shaking and crying," she told ABC News. "I am still very excited and I particularly like the fact the news reached me here in Nyeri, at home, in front of Mount Kenya."
Keeping Peace By Keeping Green
She is known as "the Tree Woman of Kenya," sometimes as "Mother Earth."
Her Green Belt Movement has planted 30 million trees across Africa to combat deforestation, which has been devastating to the African way of life.
Half of Africa's forests have been destroyed. Much of the continent has been devastated by mining, logging and other development and people in need of fuel.
Maathai believes that saving the environment is a way to safeguard peace.
"When we destroy our resources, when our resources become scarce, we fight over them. And many wars in the world are actually fought over natural resources," she said.
Widespread Admiration
Maathai began planting trees in 1977 ? in her own back yard at the foot of Mount Kenya.
By the early 1980s she had encouraged the formation of 600 nurseries growing trees.
Some 3,000 women make a little money caring for the trees. Maathai raises all the money privately. By 1993 more than 20 million trees were growing.
"She is like the Pied Piper. Whenever she visits a village, the women gather around her, they sing to her when she arrives, they give her great tributes, food, and just love," said friend Mary Davidson.
A Remarkable Woman
Maathai is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.


CNN > Poll: Bush, Kerry even in 2nd debate

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) -- There was no clear winner of the second presidential debate, a poll taken late Friday suggests.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup snap poll taken immediately after the presidential debate Friday night found that respondents gave a slight, statistically insignificant edge to Sen. John Kerry over President Bush, 47 percent to 45 percent.
The respondents included 515 registered voters who watched the debate. Their political affiliations broke down as 38 percent Republican, 32 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, making the results a virtual draw.
The poll did suggest that Bush had a significantly better performance than in the first debate, which respondents gave to Kerry by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent.
The poll is a reflection of immediate impressions of only those voters who watched the debate.
The respondents were polled before the event and 50 percent said they planned to vote for Bush while 46 percent favored Kerry.
On the issue of who could better handle the economy, Kerry made gains with the respondents. Bush led 50 percent to 44 percent before the night began, but the two candidates emerged tied at 49-49.
Bush showed strong gains on the issue of who would better handle Iraq. What was a 50-46 lead for Kerry became a 53-46 edge for Bush.
The president also scored higher when respondents were asked which candidate would be tougher; Bush was favored 53 percent to 40 percent over Kerry.
Kerry was viewed as the candidate who understood the issues better (47-42) and the one who expressed himself more clearly (54-37).

Find this article at: /ALLPOLITICS/10/09/snap .poll

New York Times > NEWS ANALYSIS Best Defense: More Offense

October 9, 2004N
Halfway through last night's debate, President Bush declared: "The best way to defend America in this world we live in is to stay on the offense," but he spent much of the evening on the defensive against John Kerry's unyielding accusations that he had mishandled the war in Iraq and the American economy.
At the outset, Mr. Bush seemed a bit strident and on edge, as if over-eager to avoid a repetition of his pained performance eight days ago. But he appeared to gain comfort as the encounter wore on, sounding considerably more confident and collected than he did last week. He strolled the stage, microphone in hand and characterized Mr. Kerry as "just not credible."
But as often as not, it was Mr. Kerry who was on the offensive on topics like tax cuts in wartime, prescription drug imports, the ballooning deficit, homeland security, the rationale for the war in Iraq and the daunting conditions on the ground there that he said had led to a "back-door draft" of National Guard and Reserve troops.
Mr. Kerry generally seemed to be more in command of his brief, more confident in demeanor and more intent than Mr. Bush to reach across partisan boundaries as he invoked the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower and talked of the importance of balancing budgets. Mr. Bush seemed more content to play to his conservative base.
Like a pair of big cats circling each other in their red-carpeted arena, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry fielded succinct questions from uncommitted voters , and from start to finish they seemed barely able to hide their distaste for each other and their differing views on foreign and domestic issues, including stem cell research and the selection of new justices to the Supreme Court.
Loosed from the anchor of the lectern he often leaned on last week, Mr. Bush addressed members of the live audience by name and the television cameras directly, doing his best to suppress the frowns and squints so widely remarked on in his last performance. He declined an offer to list three mistakes he had made in office, but offered a fresh formulation in defense of his decision to invade Iraq, insisting, "Sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right."
If Mr. Kerry's task last week was to show himself as a plausible alternative to Mr. Bush as commander in chief, last night he strived to show that he could be an acceptable television presence in the living rooms of viewers - and voters. He, too, addressed his questioners by name, and accused Mr. Bush of using the campaign as a "weapon of mass deception" to attack his character and record unfairly, and of pursuing policies that have left the world "more dangerous today."
"He wants you to believe that I can't be president," Mr. Kerry said, "and he's trying to make you believe it because he wants you to think I changed my mind. Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq." Mr. Kerry added that he, too, had believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat, and was prepared to use force if necessary, but added: "I would have used that authority wisely, not rushed to war without a plan to win the peace."
Unlike their first debate, which produced a sharp swing in national polls to Mr. Kerry's advantage, their exchange last night seemed more apt to reinforce the views of each man's supporters, while offering undecided voters some fresh context and insight into their divergent policies and personalities.
Both men recycled lines from their stump speeches, but some of Mr. Bush's seemed to fall flat without the supportive applause he can count on at partisan rallies.
Asked late in the debate whether he could assure people who believe abortion is murder that their tax dollars would not support it, Mr. Kerry spoke in personal terms about his faith as a Roman Catholic, but never gave a direct answer. By contrast, Mr. Bush declared, "My answer is that we're not going to spend taxpayer money on abortion."
Again, despite rules limiting them from questioning each other directly, the candidates produced real exchanges. After Mr. Kerry accused him of diverting attention from the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden in order to attack Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush had a crisp rejoinder.
"It's a fundamental misunderstanding to say that the war on terror is only Osama bin Laden," Mr. Bush said. "The war on terror is to make sure that these terrorist organizations do not end up with weapons of mass destruction. That's what the war on terror is about. Of course we are going to find Osama bin Laden.''
Mr. Kerry's rebuttals were equally brisk and dismissive. After Mr. Bush insisted, "We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm the president," Mr. Kerry shot back: "Our Guard and Reserves have been turned into almost active duty. You've got people doing two and three rotations. You've got stop-loss policies so people can't get out when they were supposed to. You've got a back-door draft right now."
After Mr. Bush insisted that he had listened to his generals and supplied all the troops they sought in Iraq, Mr. Kerry countered, "Military's job is to win the war; president's job is to win the peace."
One theme that emerged again and again was the gulf between Mr. Bush's stated aspirations for Iraq and the domestic economy and Mr. Kerry's grim, unsparing summary of the week's headlines about both.
Since their last debate, a report from the administration's own chief weapons inspector found that Iraq possessed no chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began, and the latest employment figures released yesterday confirmed Mr. Bush's status as the first president since Herbert Hoover to face re-election with fewer Americans at work than when he first won.
Polls since the last debate have shown a razor-close race, and at least one new poll - by Time magazine - has Mr. Kerry at last trumping Mr. Bush on likeability, the factor on which the Democrat has generally lagged all year. Last night, Mr. Kerry insisted at one point that Mr. Bush "promises you more of the same over the next four years."
In his own way, Mr. Bush acknowledged as much, saying that while he might have made some tactical errors or bad appointments, he had no regrets about his biggest decisions.
"History will look back, and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility."
History's judgment is a ways off. The voters' will come in just over three weeks.

Friday, October 08, 2004

BBC > First votes cast in Afghan poll

Afghans are voting to choose their president in what is the country's first mass democratic poll.
The favourite is the interim President, Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the fall of the hard-line Islamic Taleban nearly three years ago.
The first vote was cast by an Afghan refugee in neighbouring Pakistan, where voting opened slightly earlier.
"I am very happy," said 19-year-old Moqadasa Sidiqi, after she voted in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
The Taleban has vowed to disrupt the polls, in which more than 10 million names have been registered to vote.
More than 100,000 Afghan and international security personnel have been put on high alert for the poll.
Many Afghans hope the election will bring an end to the rule of the gun, provide national unity and encourage the flow of further international aid.
In Kabul, there were queues outside polling stations before voting began at 0700 (0230GMT).
Security has been the leading concern in the run-up to the election, seriously curtailing campaigning, which ended on Wednesday.
However, a spokesman for the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, Commander Ken MacKillop said: "Everyone is optimistic that the election will carry forth.
"We have been working very closely with the Afghan police and army to make sure the security environment... is as safe as possible."
Eighteen candidates are standing for president, and votes will be cast at about 25,000 polling stations in 5,000 locations across the country.
Some 740,000 Afghan refugees in camps in Pakistan are expected to vote, as well as another 600,000 in Iran.
In addition to high security, human rights groups have warned that voters may be intimidated.
There will be few independent observers at polling stations.
Voting is scheduled to finish at 1600 local time (1130GMT) in Afghanistan, but could be extended if there is a large turnout and people still wish to vote.
Ballot boxes will then be sealed and transported to eight regional counting centres.
In this mountainous country, some will have to be taken by helicopter.
Initial results are expected in the coming days but it may take a couple of weeks for all the votes to be counted.
Interim President Hamid Karzai is widely tipped to win, although Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Tajik former education minister Yunus Qanuni have fought high-profile campaigns.
Correspondents say it is unclear how much impact the election will have on Afghanistan's future.
Much will depend on how the country's various power brokers react to the result and how far the victor is prepared to challenge the political status quo in a country that is sometimes described as a series of mini-fiefdoms.
Jalalabad arrests
On Friday officials in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar said they had intercepted a tanker carrying 40,000 litres of fuel and packed with explosives.
If detonated, they say it could have killed hundreds of people.
Afghan troops blocked the road leading from Kandahar to the border town of Spin Boldak after the truck was found to have explosives packed in its tyres.
"It is obvious that their main goal was to detonate the truck in Kandahar city," an Afghan army commander said.
Three Pakistanis were arrested, the Nato spokesman said.
Khalid Pashtun, a spokesman for the provincial Kandahar government, said the Taleban had attacked Afghan troops in Kandahar's district of Khakrez district, on Thursday.
Three insurgents were killed and six wounded, he said.
In another incident, in southern Helmand province, four soldiers died and four were hurt when Afghan troops and militiamen loyal to the government mistakenly engaged in an hour-long gun battle on Thursday.
Early on Friday, a rocket also landed close to the main headquarters of international peacekeepers in Kabul.
Mr Karzai's vice-presidential running mate Ahmed Zia Massood survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday.
Story from BBC NEWS: /pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia /3727324.stm

Published: 2004/10/09 03:29:40 GMT


New York Times > In Town Hall Setting, Bush and Kerry Spar on Jobs and Iraq

October 8, 2004
resident Bush forcefully defended his economic record and his decision to invade Iraq in the second presidential debate on Friday, while Senator John Kerry asserted that Mr. Bush was conducting a negative, misleading campaign because he lacked the record to justify re-election.
In the opening minutes of the 90-minute forum, held at Washington University in St. Louis and featuring questions from an audience of 140 uncommitted voters, the two men immediately began a series of attacks and counterattacks.
Mr. Bush, aggressive from the start, told the audience that Mr. Kerry had consistently shifted positions on Iraq and was unsuited to lead the nation in a dangerous era. "I don't see how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty,'' with a record of such inconsistency, Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush defended his handling of Iraq, asserting that he saw a "unique threat'' in Mr. Hussein, "as did my opponent,'' adding, "We all thought there were weapons there.''
Mr. Kerry asserted that Mr. Bush was attacking him to deflect attention from his record. "The president didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so he's turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception,'' Mr. Kerry said. "And the result is you've been bombarded with advertisements suggesting that I've changed my position on this, that, or the other thing''
The Democratic challenger also quickly noted that Mr. Bush was the first president since the Depression to preside over a net loss of jobs.
The first questioner asked Mr. Kerry about his reputation for being "wishy-washy." He answered by starting an attack on Mr. Bush's credibility, saying the president's campaign was a "weapon of mass deception." Mr. Kerry said he had differences with Mr. Bush over the implementation of several major pieces of legislation, including the Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind education law, but that he had been consistent in the way he approached economic and foreign policy.
Referring to Mr. Bush's tax cuts, Mr. Kerry said his economic policy would not focus on helping the wealthy, as the president's had. "That's not wishy-washy, that's what I'm fighting for - you," Mr. Kerry said.
Mr. Bush pressed his case that Mr. Kerry had caved in to political pressure, especially over Iraq.
"I see why people in your workplace think he changes positions a lot because he does," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush mentioned Mr. Kerry's position for the Iraq war, his positions on tax cuts and other matters on which the Bush campaign has tried to portray Mr. Kerry's position as ever-shifting.
"I don't see how in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty, you can change your mind because of politics," Mr. Bush said.
Asked if it was "reasonable" to attack Iraq when it had no more access to banned chemical, biological and nuclear weapons than did countries like North Korea, the president said: "I saw a unique threat in Saddam Hussein, as did my opponent, because we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. And the unique threat was that he could give them to Al Qaeda."
If Mr. Kerry's approach had been followed, Mr. Bush said, "Saddam Hussein would still be in power and the world would be more dangerous."
In his response, Mr. Kerry said Mr. Bush was trying to distract the public with the accusation that Mr. Kerry had changed his mind because the domestic situation was a mess.
"The president wishes I had changed my mind," Mr. Kerry said. "He wants you to believe that, because he can't come here and tell you he's created new jobs for Americans," Mr. Kerry said. "We've got five million Americans who've lost their health care, 96,000 of them right here in Missouri," he said.
"I've never changed my mind about Iraq," he said. He said he had always thought Mr. Hussein was a threat, and wanted to give the president authority to use force against him back in the Clinton administration.
But he criticized Mr. Bush's conduct of the war. "This president rushed to war, pushed our allies aside, and Iran now is more dangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons," he said.
Mr. Bush "took his eye off the ball" with his focus on Iraq, Mr. Kerry said.
Responding to Mr. Bush's claim that sanctions had not been working, Mr. Kerry said the fact that Mr. Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction demonstrated that diplomacy was indeed working. If the United States had used smart diplomacy, Mr. Kerry said, "We could have saved $200 billion and an invasion of Iraq, and Osama bin Laden could be in jail or dead."
The debate - the second of three scheduled encounters between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry - came at a difficult time for the president, after a week of setbacks on the domestic and foreign policy fronts and a series of polls showing the race statistically even.
Just hours before the debate began, the Labor Department reported private sector job growth of 96,000 in September, a weaker-than-expected showing that Republicans scrambled to defend. It was the last jobs report before the election, and Democrats were quick to note that Mr. Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to seek re-election with a net loss in jobs during his term - 585,000 in Mr. Bush's case.
Mr. Bush was also on the defensive after the chief United States weapons inspector for Iraq issued a report on Wednesday that said there was no evidence that Mr. Hussein had, or was about to acquire, prohibited unconventional weapons - undermining a central rationale for the war.
The political pressures for Mr. Bush were heightened because of his lackluster performance in the first debate, when he repeatedly showed his irritation and impatience at Mr. Kerry's criticism. Before that debate, Mr. Bush had held a modest but significant lead in almost every poll. That lead quickly eroded; a Time Magazine poll released Friday, taken Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, found each man with 45 percent of the vote.
In the face of those challenges, Mr. Bush came back swinging this week, asserting that the Democratic challenger would purse a "policy of retreat'' in Iraq and advance policies that "would weaken America'' at a dangerous time.
The Kerry campaign entered the debate on a decidedly confident note, with Democrats convinced that the campaign's core message - that Mr. Bush was out of touch with reality on the economy and Iraq - was striking a powerful chord with the voters. The Kerry team handed out rose-colored glasses at the debate to underscore their point that Mr. Bush failed to see the problems confronting Americans.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, fielded volunteers in dolphin suits (one named Flipper) to highlight their assertion that Mr. Kerry's 20-year Senate career was full of flip-flops on national security, the economy, and other major issues.
The debate, which was moderated by Charles Gibson of ABC, required Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush to answer questions from voters who were leaning toward one candidate but were still uncommitted. The voters were selected by the Gallup Organization, and submitted their questions in advance to Mr. Gibson, who picked which would be asked. The debate was intended to be evenly divided between domestic and foreign policy.
The third and final debate will be held next Wednesday at Arizona State University.
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The New York Times > AP > National > Report Expected to Say Iraq Posed Little Immediate Threat

The New York Times > AP > National > Report Expected to Say Iraq Posed Little Immediate Threat: " Report Expected to Say Iraq Posed Little Immediate Threat

Published: October 6, 2004

Filed at 7:59 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The final report of the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq is expected to undercut a principal Bush administration rationale for removing Saddam Hussein: that Saddam's Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction. Weapons hunter Charles Duelfer will provide his findings Wednesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In drafts, Duelfer concluded Saddam's Iraq had no stockpiles of the banned weapons but said he found signs of idle programs that Saddam could have revived once international attention waned.
Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, and his team has compiled a 1,500-page report; it is unclear how much will be made public. Duelfer's predecessor, David Kay, who quit last December, also found no evidence of weapons stockpiles.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday the report will conclude ``that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capability, that he was pursuing an aggressive strategy to bring down the sanctions, the international sanctions, imposed by the United Nations through illegal financing procurement schemes.''
Saddam was importing banned materials, working on unmanned aerial vehicles in violation of U.N. agreements and maintaining industrial capability that could be converted to produce weapons, officials have said. Duelfer also describes Saddam's Iraq as having had limited research efforts into chemical and biological weapons.
Saddam's government fell in early April 2003 after a lightning U" - Polls declare different victors in VP debate - Oct 6, 2004 - Polls declare different victors in VP debate - Oct 6, 2004

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) -- Early polls indicated differing reactions to Tuesday night's debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards.

An ABC News snap poll showed Cheney the winner, aided by a more-Republican audience, while a CBS News poll among undecided voters showed the opposite. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Poll Tracker)

Cheney and Edwards engaged in a frequently pointed, though civil, discussion on Iraq, the war on terror, Afghanistan, same-sex marriage and malpractice liability caps.

In their only scheduled debate, Edwards charged that the Bush administration wasn't being candid and Cheney attacked the Democratic ticket's resolve and credibility.

Moderator Gwen Ifill's first question -- to Cheney -- was about the war in Iraq. Cheney said the world is safer today because of the war and the arrest of Saddam Hussein. He said if he had it to do all over again, he would recommend that the U.S. invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power.

"It's important to look at all of our developments in Iraq within the broader context of the global war on terror," Cheney said.

Edwards' response was pointed.

"Mr. Vice President, you are still not being straight with the American people," he said.

"I mean, the reality you and George Bush continue to tell people, first, that things are going well in Iraq -- the American people don't need us to explain this to them, they see it on their television every single day."

According to an ABC poll, 43 percent of registered voters said Cheney won, 35 percent gave the win to Edwards, and 19 percent called it a tie. Thirty-eight percent of the viewers were Republicans, 31 percent Democrats, the rest independents. The phone survey was conducted among a random sample of 509 registered voters who watched the debate.

CBS News' poll specifically focused on uncommitted voters and found 41 percent deemed Edwards the winner, 28 percent chose Cheney, and 31 percent said it was a tie. CBS based its poll on a "nationally representative sample of 178 debate watchers ... who are either undecided about who to vote for or who have a preference but say they could still change their minds."

Each side claimed victory immediately after the face-off. Mary Beth Cahill, Sen. John Kerry's campaign manager, said she thought Edwards won.

"I think that people looking at [Edwards tonight] found him tremendously convincing," she said.

Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, disagreed.

"I thought it was a great debate, and I thought the vice president won."

Voters' reactions varied.

"I heard far more definitive answers than I heard from the previous debate between our presidential candidates," said Paul Jacobs of Ohio. 'I still heard too much 'he said, she said, you said' accusations, but there were some definitive answers to specific questions."

Felicia Dotson said she was disappointed by the debate on Iraq.

"They talked a lot about the war, but I would have liked to hear more about how and when we're going to pull the troops out and not how we got there," she said.

Iraq and 9/11
Both candidates sat at a table with Ifill, senior correspondent for PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." During the 90-minute event, no topic was off limits -- unlike last week's presidential debate, which was limited to foreign policy.

Edwards accused Cheney of falsely suggesting a link between Iraq and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Cheney denied doing so.

"The senator has got his facts wrong," Cheney said. "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there's clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror."

When the debate turned to Afghanistan, Cheney said efforts to establish democracy there were progressing.

"We have President [Hamid] Karzai, who is in power," Cheney said. "They have done wonders writing their own constitution for the first time ever."

Edwards said someone "got it wrong" in Afghanistan.

"But it wasn't John Kerry and John Edwards. They got it wrong," Edwards said. "When we had Osama bin Laden cornered, they left the job to the Afghan warlords."

Some commanders believe bin Laden was in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan during intense fighting there in December 2001, but it isn't clear. Afghan forces did play a large role in the fighting.

Democratic campaigners are hoping Edwards can continue momentum fueled Thursday when Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry debated President Bush.

Kerry-Edwards supporters gave a prime seat in the audience to Sen. Patrick Leahy, at whom Cheney publicly directed an obscenity during an altercation in the Capitol in June, The Associated Press reported.

Leahy had criticized the vice president, reportedly about his links to Halliburton Co., the largest operator of government-funded contracts in Iraq. Leahy's prominent seat in the debate audience allowed Cheney a good look at the Democratic senator from Vermont, a dig at the vice president by the Kerry campaign.

Cheney left as chief executive of Halliburton in 2000, long before the Iraq war, and the Bush campaign has said that Halliburton had been a government contractor before Cheney became vice president.

Edwards said the company should not have "gotten a $7.5 billion no-bid contract in Iraq, and instead of part of their money being withheld, which is the way it's normally done, because they're under investigation, they've continued to get their money."

The U.S. Defense Department is investigating whether Halliburton overcharged for the fuel delivered to Iraqi civilians, and its Kellogg, Brown and Root subsidiary agreed to refund $27 million for potential overbillings at five dining halls in Iraq and Kuwait.

The investigative arm of Congress, the General Accountability Office, ruled that Halliburton's no-bid government contracts were legal and were awarded properly based on Pentagon wartime logistical needs.

Cheney said the Halliburton probe was a non-issue.

"It's an effort that they've made repeatedly to try to confuse the voters and to raise questions, but there's no substance to the charges," Cheney said.

Cheney also lauded the Bush administration's record on education.

"Forty-nine percent increase in funding for elementary and secondary education under No Child Left Behind," Cheney said. "That's a lot of money even by Massachusetts' standards."

"Yes," Edwards responded. "But they didn't fund the mandates that they put on the schools all over this country. That's the reason 800 teachers ... have been laid off, right here in Cleveland."

Malpractice liability caps
Ifill brought up Edwards' career as a trial lawyer and the North Carolina senator's opposition to caps on medical malpractice awards. Edwards won a record-setting $23 million verdict in 1997 in the case of a child who was brain-damaged at birth.

Cheney expressed support for liability caps but refused to characterize Edwards as "part of the problem," as stated in Ifill's question.

Edwards said, "John Kerry and I are always going to stand with the [victims] of this world and not with the insurance companies."

Cheney repeatedly accused Edwards of using factually inaccurate statements in his answers and responses.

Edwards got personal with Cheney when he said a Bush-proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages was wrong.

"I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter," Edwards said. "I think they love her very much and you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter [and] they're willing to embrace her."

"But we should not use the constitution to divide this country."

The vice president touched on Edwards' relative political inexperience as a one-term senator.

"Your rhetoric, senator, would be a lot more credible if there was a record to back it up," Cheney said. "There isn't."

Cheney accused Edwards of poor attendance in the Senate.

"Frankly, senator, you have a record that's not very distinguished."

Edwards, in response, defended his short tenure in the Senate.

"One thing that's very clear is that a long resume does not equal good judgment," Edwards said. "I mean, we've seen over and over and over the misjudgments made by this administration."

With less than a month before Election Day, the race appears to be very close. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday indicated a dead heat -- 49 percent to 49 percent -- among likely voters. President Bush had led by 8 percentage points in a poll conducted a week earlier. (Poll puts Bush, Kerry about even)

The next presidential debate is Friday at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Topics are unlimited, and the event will take place under a "town hall" format, with Bush and Kerry fielding questions from undecided voters. Undecided voters are expected to be more crucial to victory in this election because of the thin margin separating the candidates in the polls.

The final presidential debate is set for October 13 in Tempe, Arizona. That event will be limited to domestic issues, such as the economy.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Hong Kong legislators sworn in

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Hong Kong legislators sworn in: "Hong Kong legislators sworn in
Hong Kong's new Legislative Council members have taken the territory's official oath of office.
In last month's elections, 25 of the 60 seats went to pro-democracy candidates - more than ever before.
The new members are likely to create problems for Hong Kong's leader Tung Chee-hwa and his pro-China government.
One of the newly-elected legislators, Leung Kwok-hung, has already caused controversy by adding a number of pro-democracy slogans to his official oath.
'Long live the people! Power to the people!' he shouted, punching the air.
He had initially refused to swear the oath at all, despite the fact that the pledge, which promises loyalty to the Chinese and Hong Kong governments and the territory's constitution, is compulsory.
Mr Leung - a radical activist known as Longhair - said he would rather promise support for human rights, justice, freedom and democracy.
But earlier on Wednesday, a judge threw out his case, warning he could face expulsion if he refused to comply.
So far no action has been taken against him.
Platform for dissent
The LegCo's role is simply to scrutinise government policy and legislation, and pass its budget.
But it also provides a useful platform for those who want to express dissent.
Mr Tung and his allies in Beijing were no doubt relieved that the pro-democracy camp fell short of its aspirations at last month's elections and only won 25 seats.
But nevertheless, a significant number of democrats were elected - and some of them are among the government's fiercest critics.
These include Longhair, renowned for his Che Guevara T-shirts and Marxist views, and a controversial radio host who resigned from "

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Explosion 'targets Karzai's ally'

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Explosion 'targets Karzai's ally'
Explosion 'targets Karzai's ally'
An explosion in the north-eastern Afghan city of Feyzabad was aimed at President Hamid Karzai's running mate, Afghan officials say.
At least one person died in the explosion. However, Mr Karzai's vice-presidential candidate, Ahmed Zia Massood, was not injured.

The incident came as Mr Karzai held his final rally in the capital, Kabul.

The poll on Saturday will be Afghanistan's first election for head of state.

Taleban vow

No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack although the Taleban and al-Qaeda have vowed to disrupt the presidential elections.

The BBC's Crispin Thorold in Kabul says the province of Badakhshan, where the blast took place, is not an area where there has been much militant activity.

There is some confusion over the details of the attack.

Some reports said Mr Massood was travelling from the airport to a rally site when his convoy was struck, possibly by a mine or roadside bomb.

But interior ministry spokesman, Lutfullah Mashal said it took place at the rally itself in Feyzabad, the capital of Badakhshan, 300km north-east of Kabul.

He said there had so far been no arrests.

"The investigation is going on. It is the work of the enemies of peace and the elements who want to derail the election process," Mr Mashal said.

Mutaleb Beg, a local police official, told the Associated Press agency four people were hurt in the blast.

Reports said the former governor of the province, Sayed Ikramuddin, was one of those hurt.

Mr Massood is the brother of the late Ahmed Shah Massood, who led the battle against Soviet occupation.

Ahmed Zia Massood's running partner, President Hamid Karzai, held his final rally on Wednesday in front of thousands of supporters in Kabul's sports stadium.

Mr Karzai told them: "By voting you are laying the first bricks in a wall of democracy that will last for decades and centuries."

The Kabul rally was only the second public meeting Mr Karzai has held.

The first was on Tuesday when he flew by helicopter to Ghazni, 100km south of Kabul, to speak to about 10,000 people.

Festive atmosphere

Under Afghan electoral law, campaigning ends on Wednesday.

After three decades of war, interference, bloodshed and destruction... we proved that we are a noble nation
Hamid Karzai

Around 6,000 people packed into Kabul's stadium - which was notorious under the Taleban regime for public executions.

Our correspondent, at the rally, says there was a festive atmosphere with men performing the national dance to the accompaniment of drums.

Supporters held banners saying "a vote for Hamid Karzai is a vote for democracy".

Mr Karzai said Afghans should cast their ballots freely, without pressure from anyone, including his own officials.

"We have 18 candidates and it is a source of pride that after three decades of war, interference, bloodshed and destruction... we proved that we are a noble nation."

Mr Karzai's rally was followed at the same venue later in the day by one for Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

He told a crowd of around 1,000: "Firstly I tell you that we will win. If not, the future government without us would have no legitimacy."

Our correspondent says the campaign is drawing to a close just hours after it sprang into life.

For nearly four weeks the candidates' posters, pasted to walls across the country, were the only sign that a democratic ballot was imminent.

Although the other leading contenders, including the former education minister, Yunis Qanuni, and the Uzbek regional leader, Abdul Rashid Dostum, have been more active, this is an election that is likely to be won behind closed doors, our correspondent says.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US running mates clash over Iraq

BBC NEWS | Americas | US running mates clash over Iraq: "US running mates clash over Iraq
The two vice-presidential candidates in next month's US election have clashed on Iraq and other security issues in a televised debate.
Republican incumbent Dick Cheney said invading Iraq was 'exactly the right thing to do'.
Democratic challenger John Edwards accused the administration of 'not being straight' with the US people.
The contest is seen as crucial after the perceived win of Democrat John Kerry in the first debate last week.
Opinion polls suggest that Mr Kerry and President George W Bush are running neck and neck ahead of the November election.
What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do
Dick Cheney
You are still not being straight with the American people
John Edwards

At the start of Tuesday's debate in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr Cheney - who is seen as an architect of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein - defended President Bush's policy on Iraq.
He added that the former Iraqi leader had 'an established relationship' with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
Mr Edwards countered by saying that the connection between the two was 'tenuous at best'.
'Wrong side'
The war, Mr Edwards said, had been a 'distraction' from the fight against terror, and accused the administration of having 'no plan to win the peace' in Iraq.
Mr Edwards also challenged his opponent over the multi-billion-dollar post-war contracts awarded to Halliburton, the firm Mr Cheney once ran.
Mr Cheney denied any wrongdoing and said the allegations were aimed at obscuring the 'undistinguished' record of the Democratic candidates on foreign policy.
I have great respect for Cheney, but he was like an old warri"

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

NY Times > Bremer Says U.S. Was Short on Troops for Occupation of Iraq

October 5, 2004
Filed at 2:09 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House refused to say Tuesday whether the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's ouster had asked the president for more troops to deal with the rapid descent of postwar Iraq into chaos.
In remarks published Tuesday, the official, L. Paul Bremer, said he arrived in Iraq on May 6, 2003 to find ``horrid'' looting and a very unstable situation -- throwing new fuel onto the presidential campaign issue of whether the United States had sufficiently planned for the post-war situation in Iraq.
``We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness,'' Bremer said during an address to an insurance group in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The group released a summary of his remarks in Washington.
``We never had enough troops on the ground,'' Bremer said, while insisting that he was ``more convinced than ever that regime change was the right thing to do.''
White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to say whether Bremer had pleaded with Bush for more troops. ``We never get into reading out all the conversations they had,'' McClellan said.
Later, in an unusual public acknowledgment of internal dissent, the Bush campaign said that Bremer and the military brass had clashed on troop levels.
``Ambassador Bremer differed with the commanders in the field,'' said campaign spokesman Brian Jones. ``That is his right, but the president has always said that he will listen to his commanders on the ground and give them the support they need for victory.''
Kerry said Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney should acknowledge mistakes made in Iraq, pointing to remarks by Bremer that more troops had been needed in the aftermath of war.
``I hope tonight Mr. Cheney can acknowledge those mistakes,'' the Democratic presidential candidate said, referring to the debate between the vice president and Kerry's running mate Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. ``I hope Mr. Cheney can take responsibility.''
Kerry said there was a ``long list of mistakes'' that the Bush administration had made in Iraq.
``I'm glad that Paul Bremer has finally admitted at least two of them, and the president of the United States needs to tell the truth to the American people,'' Kerry said. The other mistake, Kerry said, was a failure to contain postwar mayhem and violence.
In a statement Monday night to The Washington Post, Bremer said he fully supported the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq.
``I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq,'' he said in the e-mailed statement, according to Tuesday's edition of the Post. He said references to troops levels related to the situation when he first arrived in Baghdad ``when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting.''
Bremer addressed the Insurance Leadership Forum, at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Portions of the speech were made available Monday night through a press release from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
In an earlier speech Sept. 17 at DePauw University, Bremer said he frequently raised the issue of too few troops within the Bush administration and ``should have been even more insistent'' when his advice was rejected. ``The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout'' the occupation, Bremer said, according to the Banner-Graphic in Greencastle, Ind.
The final report by the American weapons inspector in Iraq -- Charles Duelfer -- will come out this week. In drafts, Duelfer found that Saddam did not have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, but left signs that he had idle programs he someday hoped to revive.
Even before the final report was issued, McClellan said it bolstered the White House's contentions on Iraq.
The report will assert ``that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capability, that he was pursuing an aggressive strategy to bring down the sanctions, the international sanctions imposed by the United Nations through illegal financing procurement schemes,'' McClellan said. ``That's something that's very revealing.''
``The fact that he had the intent and capability'' to build weapons of mass destruction, and that he was ``trying to undermine the sanctions that were in place is very disturbing, and I think the report will continue to show that he was a gathering threat that needed to be taken seriously, that it was a matter of time before he was going to begin pursuing those weapons of mass destruction,'' McClellan said.
McClellan ticked off a litany of what he said were links between Iraq and al-Qaida. Both were ``sworn enemies of the free world, including the United States''; both ``celebrated the Sept. 11 attacks on America,'' he said.
``There are clearly ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida,'' McClellan said. ``There (were) clearly some disturbing similarities that existed as well.''
``We know there were senior-level contacts between the regime and al-Qaida -- the 9/11 commission documented that,'' McClellan said.
In fact, the 9/11 report said that while there were ``friendly contacts'' between Iraq and al-Qaida and a common hatred of the United States, none of these contacts ``ever developed into a collaborative relationship.''
Indeed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech Monday that he knew of no clear link between the al-Qaida terror network and Saddam Hussein, although he later backed off the statement and said he was misunderstood.
Asked to describe the connection between the Iraqi leader and the al-Qaida terror network at an appearance Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Pentagon chief first refused to answer, then said: ``To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.''
Several hours after his appearance, Rumsfeld issued a statement from the Pentagon saying his comment ``regrettably was misunderstood'' by some. He said he has said since September 2002 that there were ties between Osama bin Laden's terror group and Iraq.
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BBC NEWS | South Asia | Karzai braves rally outside Kabul

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Karzai braves rally outside Kabul: "Karzai braves rally outside Kabul
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended his first campaign rally outside the capital, Kabul, just four days before landmark elections.
He flew to Ghazni, 100km south of Kabul to address a crowd of about 10,000.
Two other leading presidential candidates also held rallies - Yunus Qanuni in Kabul and General Abdul Rashid Dostum in Mazar-e-Sharif.
There was massive security for Mr Karzai - violence by the Taleban has hampered campaigning in many areas.
Mr Karzai's only other campaign foray outside the capital last month was abandoned when a rocket was fired at his helicopter.
Killing condemned
The BBC's Andrew North in Ghazni says a lively crowd holding colourful banners and portraits of Mr Karzai gathered to hear him speak on Tuesday.
He urged people to support him and help the country recover from decades of war.
'Brothers and sisters, I ask you to vote for me freely, with no pressure. We want a proud Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, a peaceful Afghanistan,' he told the crowd.
His arrival was accompanied by massive security, with Apache attack helicopters and A-10 tank buster aircraft guarding the president's helicopter.
After the rally, the president mingled with the crowd to the discomfort of his US guards.
When I see this number of people, in their thousands, I'm delighted and I'm sure that I will win
Hamid Karzai

He shook hands with an old man, telling his guards: 'Don't push him! Don't push him! This is democracy. This is emotion!'
One of Mr Karzai's leading rivals, Mr Qanuni, told 2,000 people at a Kabul football stadium the election would be a 'transition from dictatorship to democracy and e"

Singapore to use ex-PM as Malaysia go-between

Singapore to use ex-PM as Malaysia go-between

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, Oct. 5 ?/font> Singapore's new prime minister named his predecessor on Tuesday as emissary to strengthen ties with neighbour Malaysia, but his move to delegate the task raised a doubt over the current mood of reconciliation.

Lee Hsien Loong, who became premier in August, made the announcement after the first face-to-face meeting between the new leaders of the two Southeast Asian nations aimed at putting an often-strained relationship on a new footing.
''I have asked Mr Goh Chok Tong to continue to look after these bilateral issues because he is familiar with them,'' Lee, son of modern Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, told a joint news conference in Malaysia's administrative capital.
''They are complex... it will take me quite some time to master (them).''
His Malaysian counterpart, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said he had accepted Lee's decision to task Goh as negotiator. Relations between the two nations have been uneasy since the early 1960s when Singapore joined and then quit Malaysia.
Neither premier took questions but the mood was cordial and Lee slipped in a joke, in marked contrast to the stony-faced joint news conferences held when Lee senior and Malaysian veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad were in power in the 1980s.
Abdullah, a consensus-style politician who succeeded Mahathir a year ago, said he and Lee wanted to improve business and investment ties, especially in tourism and airline industries. But Lee's decision to use Goh raised eyebrows in Malaysia.
''The government has been banking on hope of renegotiation with Singapore's new leader,'' political analyst Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal said. ''How can he delegate it to a lesser person?
''Is it an effort to speed up negotiations or just another delaying tactic?''
A spokesman for Singapore's prime minister, whose visit was part of a tour of Southeast Asian capitals, dismissed any suggestion Lee was distancing himself from the task of resolving long-standing bilateral disputes: ''He is the prime minister and he still has to make the final decision.''

The price of water that the Malaysian peninsula pipes to the island of Singapore heads a package of issues that have complicated relations between the countries since they formally separated in 1965. Malaysia complains that Singapore pays a pittance for the water under agreements dating back to that era.
Abdullah, who visited Singapore in January, has set a conciliatory tone by stating a willingness to restart failed talks over such disputes.
Other outstanding issues include land reclamation near the Johor Strait between Malaysia and Singapore, a row over a new bridge across the strait and Malaysian sovereignty over a rail line and station in Singapore.
''I think relations have improved over the past 12 to 18 months and I think we need to build on this,'' Lee said, citing Singapore's recent resumption of Malaysian chicken imports after a recent outbreak of bird flu in Malaysia's north.
Abdullah has suggested the two sides first strengthen ties before tackling the hard issues.
He and Lee spoke on Tuesday of jointly promoting Singapore and Malaysia as tourist destinations.
They pledged ongoing cooperation on security in the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest sea lanes, and signed an updated tax treaty that lowers withholding tax rates. No details of the new tax rates were available.
(Additional reporting by Jalil Hamid)

Monday, October 04, 2004

The New York Times > Poll Finds Kerry Assured Voters in Initial Debate


Senator John Kerry came out of the first presidential debate having reassured many Americans of his ability to handle an international crisis or a terrorist attack and with a generally more favorable image, but he failed to shake the perception that he panders to voters in search of support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll also found significant doubts about President Bush's policies toward Iraq, with a majority of the public saying that the United States invaded too soon and that the administration did a poor job thinking through the consequences of the war. But Mr. Bush maintained an advantage on personal characteristics like strong leadership and likability, as well as in the enthusiasm of his supporters.

Four weeks from Election Day, the presidential race is again a dead heat, with Mr. Bush having given up the gains he enjoyed for the last month after the Republican convention in New York, the poll found. In both a head-to-head matchup and a three-way race including Ralph Nader, the Republican and Democratic tickets each won the support of 47 percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll.

Last month, Mr. Bush led Mr. Kerry by 50-42 in a two-way race and 50-41 in a three-way race.

The results, which parallel those of several other national polls in the past few days, are likely to intensify interest in tonight's debate in Cleveland between the vice-presidential candidates, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the two additional presidential debates, on Friday and Oct. 13.

Aides to both campaigns said yesterday that the running mates' debate, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, was unlikely to have a major impact on the vote in November. That did not stop them, though, from trying once again to set high expectations for the other side, as each campaign pointed to the debating strengths of its opponents.

Some of the drop in Mr. Bush's numbers appeared to reflect the traditional cycle in which a candidate's standing surges after his nominating convention and then declines somewhat. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns have said for months that they expect the race to be tight at the very end.

But Mr. Kerry also scored notable gains in several areas that could be vital in a campaign being largely fought over the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism.

Forty-one percent of registered voters said they had confidence in Mr. Kerry's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, up from 32 percent before the debate. Thirty-nine percent said they had a lot of confidence that Mr. Kerry would make the right decisions when it came to protecting against a terrorist attack, up 13 percentage points.

On both scores, however, Mr. Kerry still trailed Mr. Bush. Fifty-one percent of voters said they had confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to deal with an international crisis, unchanged from before the debate, and 52 percent said they had a lot of confidence in his ability to protect against a terrorist attack, up slightly from 50 percent last month.

Mr. Bush's strategy of portraying Mr. Kerry as an unprincipled flip-flopper appears to have stuck in the national consciousness. Sixty percent of registered voters said Mr. Kerry told people what they wanted to hear rather than what he really believed, about the same level as throughout the spring and summer. The corresponding figure for Mr. Bush was 38 percent.

It is unclear whether the race for the White House has merely reverted to a steady state in which neither candidate can establish a clear lead, whether Mr. Bush can regain the advantage with a strong performance in the next debates or whether Thursday was a turning point at which Mr. Kerry seized the initiative.

There is also considerable uncertainty over whether national polling numbers reflect the state of play in the 18 or so swing states where the election will be decided and where the relative success of get-out-the-vote efforts by both sides could prove to be the difference. In recent weeks there has been a surge of new voter registrations in many states as the two campaigns and their allies seek to ensure that every possible supporter goes to the polls on Nov. 2.

The Kerry campaign said the poll showed that the race was moving in its direction. The nationwide telephone poll of 979 adults included 851 registered voters. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample, and for registered voters, is plus or minus three percentage points.

"The public took a measure of John Kerry standing next to the president, and came to the conclusion that he had the strength, judgment and experience to be the commander in chief," said Joe Lockhart, a senior strategist for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Bush's team said he remained ahead in the ways that would count most on Election Day.

"We always said this race would be close," said Matthew Dowd, Mr. Bush's chief campaign strategist. "When style fades quickly, leadership and policies remain, and that is where the president has the advantage."

Over all, Mr. Kerry appears to have come off well in the debate, which respondents to the poll said, 60 percent to 23 percent, that he won.

The proportion of registered voters saying they viewed Mr. Kerry favorably jumped to its highest level, 40 percent, from 31 percent in mid-September, while the number of people who said they did not view him favorably, 41 percent, did not change appreciably.

The percentage of voters who said their opinion of Mr. Bush was favorable dipped slightly, to 44 percent from 47 percent last month, while the percentage of voters who said they did not view Mr. Bush favorably increased to 44 percent from 38 percent in that period.

Mr. Kerry, who sought to emphasize during the debate how aggressive he would be in hunting down terrorists and protecting the nation from attack, made some headway in winning back women who had been drifting toward Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry led Mr. Bush 48 percent to 46 percent among women; last month Mr. Bush led among women 48 percent to 43 percent.

The results show not only how closely divided the nation is, but also how clearly defined the differences are between the candidates, especially on foreign policy. Just under half of voters said both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry would bring the right balance to judgments about when to go to war. But 46 percent said Mr. Bush would not be careful enough and 31 percent said Mr. Kerry would be too careful.

The poll indicated that Americans continued to have doubts about both candidates. Mr. Bush's job approval rating, at 47 percent, was little changed from last month and close to what has traditionally been a danger zone for an incumbent seeking re-election. His approval ratings for his handling of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy were even lower, and a narrow majority of respondents, 51 percent, said the country was on the wrong track.

The poll suggested that the daily bloodshed in Iraq and Mr. Kerry's strategy of hammering away at Mr. Bush's handling of the war might be resonating among voters. Asked what kind of job Mr. Bush had done in anticipating what would happen in Iraq as a result of the war, 59 percent said he had done a poor job and 34 percent said a good job. A slight majority, 52 percent, said the United States had been too quick to go to war in Iraq, compared with 37 percent who said the timing was about right.

But Mr. Bush maintained his reputation as an effective leader in confronting terrorism, with 57 percent of respondents saying they approved of his handling of the issue and 37 percent disapproving. Asked whether they thought of Mr. Bush as someone they would like personally, even if they did not approve of his policies, 61 percent said yes, versus 48 percent for Mr. Kerry. Asked whether both candidates have strong qualities of leadership, 62 percent said yes for Mr. Bush and 56 percent said yes for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry continued to generate increased levels of enthusiasm for his candidacy among those who said they supported him, with 48 percent saying they strongly favored him, up from 40 percent last month. But, in a race that could hinge on turnout, Mr. Bush maintained a strong advantage on that measure, with 70 percent of his backers saying they strongly favored him, up from 63 percent.

Fifty-five percent of voters said Mr. Bush had made clear what he wants to accomplish in the next four years, a five-point increase since last month, while 45 percent of voters said Mr. Kerry had a clear agenda, up seven points in the same period.

The poll found that 65 percent of voters did not think Mr. Bush had a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq, and that 59 percent of voters did not think Mr. Kerry had one. Half of voters said they thought Mr. Bush made the situation in Iraq sound better than it is, and 43 percent said Mr. Kerry made it sound worse.

CNN > Poll puts Bush, Kerry about even Results indicate gain for senator over last such survey

Sunday, October 3, 2004
Posted: 7:38 PM EDT (2338 GMT)
(CNN) -- President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, are about even among likely and registered voters in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released Sunday.
The poll showed Kerry and Bush tied at 49 percent each among likely voters interviewed. Among registered voters Bush had 49 percent and Kerry 47 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was favored by 1 percent in each group.
The margin of error in each case was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
By contrast, Bush was ahead of Kerry among likely voters 52 percent to 44 percent in the Gallup poll conducted September 24-26. Among registered voters in that poll, the spread was 53 percent for Bush and 42 percent for Kerry. Nader had 3 percent among each group.
The latest poll talked with 1,012 adult Americans by telephone Friday through Sunday, after the presidential debate Thursday. Among those interviewed, 934 said they were registered voters and 772 indicated they were likely to vote.
"It's obvious that the debate helped Kerry. What's less obvious is how," CNN polling director Keating Holland said.
Other polls conducted after the debate also showed Kerry in a virtual tie with Bush. (Full story)
On the issue of the economy, the poll showed all voters favoring Kerry 51 percent to Bush's 44 percent, almost exactly the opposite of what the September 24-26 poll indicated -- Bush with 51 percent and Kerry with 45 percent.
Holland said that was good news for Kerry going into the second and third debates, in which domestic issues will be highlighted.
But Holland said the expectations game has shifted -- a plurality says that Kerry will do the better job in the second debate (before the first debate, most Americans thought Bush would win).
"So the pressure is on Kerry to meet expectations. And let's not forget the good news for the White House in this poll: Bush is still seen as a stronger leader who would better deal with Iraq and terrorism," Holland said.
Bush's numbers on the Iraq and terrorism, however, have fallen since the previous poll.
He leads Kerry 51 percent to 44 percent on the question of who would do a better job in Iraq. That was down from 55 percent for Bush in the previous poll and up from 41 percent for Kerry.
On who would do a better job against terrorism, Bush had 56 percent to Kerry's 39 percent. The figures in the previous poll were 61 percent for Bush to 34 percent for Kerry.
The results on each question had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Voters were split between the two candidates on poll questions about personal qualities, and they picked Bush as a stronger leader by a large margin.
On the question of who is better at expressing himself, Kerry outpolled Bush 54 percent to 41 percent. On who cares more about people, Kerry had 49 percent and Bush 44 percent. On the question of who is more intelligent, Kerry led Bush 48 percent to 38 percent.
On who is more honest and trustworthy, however, Bush trumped Kerry by 46 percent to 41 percent, and when asked who among the two candidates shares their values, voters chose Bush 49 percent to 45 percent for Kerry.
And when it comes to who they think is the stronger leader, those polled favored Bush by 56 percent to 37 percent for Kerry.
Again, the results on each question had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The China Post > Taiwan wants security dialogue with Japan

(Updated 12:18 A.M.)
The China Post staff

Premier Yu Shyi-kun called on Japan yesterday to start security dialogue with Taiwan as a counterweight against China, an emerging regional power.
Speaking at a Taiwan-Japan Forum meeting, the premier said Japan, the most important democracy in Asia, has to set up channels for the security dialogue with Taiwan to promote their mutually shared democratic values.
The third annual session of the conference, sponsored by the China Eurasia Foundation and Japan's Peace Research Institute, was opened in Taipei in the morning.
Japan, like all other major nations of the world, has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. But the two countries have non-official contacts and substantial trade ties.
Yu said the United States should also take part in the security dialogue.
Though without diplomatic ties, the United States is committed to help Taiwan defend against invasion from China, which vows to take the island back to its fold by force if necessary.
"The three countries," the premier said, "must set up channels for a dialogue to strengthen cooperation against terrorism and regional security."
He did not elaborate but stressed Taiwan's geographical value to Japan and the United Sates.
In particular, Yu said, the Taiwan Strait is Japan's lifeline. Maritime transportation between Japan and the area west of it must pass through the 100-mile strip of water separating Taiwan and China.
China has deployed some 700 cruise missiles along its Fujian coast, all targeting Taiwan.
"Taiwan, the United States and Japan are nations that value democracy, freedom, and human rights," said the premier, who had threatened to attack Shanghai, if China launched those missiles against Taipei.
On September 25, Yu broached his "balance of terror" strategy to retaliate after the first Chinese attack in an attempt to rally support for Taiwan's NT$610.8 billion weapons purchase from the United States.
The premier was joined by Chiu I Jen, secretary-general of the National Security Council, in the call for the security dialogue.
Chiu told scholars from Taiwan and Japan at the meeting the non-official channels of dialogue between Taipei and Tokyo set up in 1972 have to be updated.
Tokyo cut off diplomatic ties with Taipei on September 29, 1972.
The security dialogue is necessary, Chiu emphasized.
Unless those old channels were upgraded, Chiu said, the two countries could not cope with the new security problems in Asia.
Apparently forgetting Taiwan is no longer a member of the United Nations, Chiu seems to have promised Taipei's endorsement of Japan's application for a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council.
Taipei was ousted from the United Nations on September 25, 1971.
"As regards the U.N. reform," Chiu said, "we support Japan playing a vital role."
Japan's application for Security Council permanent membership is called part of the U.N. reform. Japan, along with Germany, Brazil and India, hopes to be admitted to the Security Council, the most powerful organization of the world body.
Junichiro Koizumi, Japanese prime minister, pitched Tokyo's bid at the U.N. General Assembly on September 21.
China, a permanent member of the Security Council, is strongly opposed to Japan's bid.
Beijing pledges not to seat Japan, which has not yet faced up to the atrocities it committed in China and Southeast Asia before and during the Second World War.
Chiou urged the world to set aside the historical past. Japan, as the largest democratic power in Asia, deserves a permanent seat in the Security Council, he said.