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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Japan Today - News - U.S. to test bunkerbuster nukes - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. to test bunkerbuster nukes - Japan's Leading International News Network

U.S. to test bunkerbuster nukes

Saturday, February 5, 2005 at 08:35 JST
WASHINGTON — The United States plans to conduct an inert-bomb test in fiscal 2006 as part of its ongoing research to develop a bunkerbuster nuclear bomb, congressional sources said Thursday.

President George W Bush intends to seek outlays for the planned test in his budget plan to be submitted to Congress on Monday for the fiscal year starting Oct 1, the sources said. (Kyodo News)

The New York Times > New York Region > Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City

The New York Times > New York Region > Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City: "February 5, 2005
Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
February 5, 2005
Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City
By SABRINA TAVERNISE

A New York State judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday that a state law that effectively denied gay couples the right to marry violated the state Constitution, a decision that raised the possibility that the city would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as next month.

The ruling, by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, was the first on the state level to side with proponents of gay marriage. In her 62-page decision, she wrote that the state's Domestic Relations Law, which dates to 1909 and limits marriage to unions between opposite-sex couples, deprived gay couples of equal protection and due process rights under the state Constitution.

She likened the law to those that once barred interracial marriages and said that words currently used in defining legal marriages - husband and wife, groom and bride - "shall be construed to apply equally to either men or women."

The issue of gay marriage has roiled the country, and it became a factor in the presidential race last fall as voters in numerous states enacted ballot initiatives limiting marriages to heterosexual couples. Just this week, President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, once again embraced a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

In Massachusetts, the high state court has said that gay marriage is compelled under the Constitution, and couples have been marrying by the thousands. In San Francisco, the mayor issued licenses, but the state's high court ruled that the mayor did not have authority to issue the licenses.

And so the implications of the New York judge's ruling yesterday are far from settled. The ruling applies only to New York City, and in a number of cases in other counties across the state, judges have upheld the state's marriage laws. As a result, many lawyers, as well as state and city officials, expect that the question will eventually have to be settled by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Most immediately, though, the city, which was named as the defendant in the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of five New York City couples, has to decide whether to appeal yesterday's ruling. A lawyer for the city yesterday said simply that he was studying the ruling and considering options.

But legal experts say that, according to the ruling, if the city does not appeal within 30 days, the city clerk's office would be required to issue a license to any gay couple that applies, something gay couples across the city and state have been seeking for years. And in her ruling, Justice Ling-Cohan all but ordered the city clerk to do so.

"It's about time it came about," said Bettina D. Hindin, an expert in matrimonial law at the Manhattan-based firm Slade & Newman. "It knocks the stuffing out of anyone who would say that couples should not marry because of some draconian law from the early 20th century."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican, stayed silent on the issue yesterday. In the past, Mr. Bloomberg has supported overhauling state law to allow gay marriage. He is likely to be all the more sensitive now, as he seeks re-election in a city with a powerful gay vote.

Mr. Bloomberg's political rivals wasted no time in expressing their opinions. Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, both Democrats, put out statements last night calling upon the mayor to support the decision. At the same time, the mayor is also facing two potential Republican primary challengers who would surely use his support for the ruling against him with more conservative voters.

One city official said yesterday that the decision on whether to appeal yesterday's ruling might depend in part on whether city lawyers concluded that they were professionally bound to challenge a decision that set a different standard for New York City than for other counties.

To forgo an appeal could, at least temporarily, "turn New York City into a gay marriage Mecca," said one city official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One of the many open questions is whether others, such as religious groups or conservative organizations, could seek to short-circuit the ruling or file lawsuits themselves in an attempt to have the state's higher courts take up the issue. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office said through a spokeswoman that it would not intercede, asserting that the ruling pertained solely to New York City.

Mr. Spitzer's office issued an opinion last year that said state law did not allow gay marriage, after a mayor in New Paltz, a village in upstate New York, began marrying gay couples without licenses. But the office indicated that the question could only be settled by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, and several legal experts interviewed yesterday agreed.

"Sooner or later, a case raising the exact same issue is going to get to the Court of Appeals and whatever it rules will be the final word," said Vincent Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School and an expert on the Court of Appeals. "It will make no difference what anyone else has said about it. If the Court of Appeals rules no, that's the end of it."

The court is already being asked to consider an appeal for another gay marriage case - Samuels v. New York State Department of Health - with almost identical issues, he said. In that case, a lower court judge rejected efforts to challenge the state's marriage laws.

At least three other state judges have ruled against gay marriage proponents, most recently on Thursday in Ulster County. In that ruling, State Supreme Court Justice E. Michael Kavanagh ruled it was proper to deny two couples married by an Albany minister licenses, because state law limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Gov. George E. Pataki echoed that opinion yesterday. He said, through aides, that he opposed the ruling. A spokesman would not comment when asked whether Mr. Pataki could intercede in any way.

"The governor strongly believes that the judge's decision is wrong," said Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Mr. Pataki. "New York's marriage laws are clear that marriage is between a man and a woman and any changes to our laws should be made through the legislative process, not by a judge or local officials."

Yesterday's ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed last March by five gay couples, all of whom had been denied marriage licenses. The judge reasoned that the government had no legitimate reason to prohibit same-sex marriage, and that doing so violated the basic right to choose a partner. Developments in New York law, she said, make discrimination based on sexual orientation unacceptable.

"Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing," Justice Ling-Cohan wrote.

She concluded that, "marriage is viewed by society as the utmost expression of a couple's commitment and love; plaintiffs may now seek this ultimate expression through a civil marriage."

At a news conference in the Lambda Legal offices in downtown Manhattan, the couples reacted joyously.

"We're getting hitched," said Curtis Woolbright, a plaintiff who said he had taken part in the suit because his parents, a biracial couple, had to fight to get married. They moved to California in the 1960's, one of the few states to allow biracial marriage at the time.

"We're so excited about this we can't express it," Mr. Woolbright said.

Another couple, Mary Jo Kennedy and Jo-Ann Shain, said it was their 16-year-old daughter, Aliya Shain, who convinced them to seek a marriage license and join the suit. Aliya, smiling into the blaze of camera flashes and television crews, said she was proud of her parents. The family lives in Brooklyn, and Aliya, who had skipped physics class to attend the event, said that her friends at school were supportive and that she hoped the rest of the country would be as well.

When asked about Mr. Bush's speech, she said, "I would invite the president to spend a day in my home because I think that would greatly change his mind."

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | US actor Ossie Davis found dead

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | US actor Ossie Davis found dead: "US actor Ossie Davis found dead
US actor Ossie Davis has been found dead at the age of 87.

Davis, who was married to actress Ruby Dee, was found dead on Friday in his hotel room in Miami Beach, Florida, where he was making a film.

Davis, whose 65-year career included credits as a producer, director, actor and writer for stage and screen, was also a civil rights activist.

Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said the cause of death appeared to be natural.

Heart disease

Davis's body was discovered by his grandson and paramedics at the Shore Club hotel in Miami Beach, where the actor had been shooting the film Retirement.

Mr Hernandez said: 'After gaining entry, they found Mr Davis had passed away.

'The cause of death appears to be natural. According to his grandson he was suffering from heart disease.'

Some of Davis's best known roles included The Joe Louis Story (1953) and Gone Are the Days (1963) - a film he adapted from his own play, Purlie Victorious.

He also appeared in three Spike Lee movies, School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991).

Racial equality

His film debut, in 1950, was in the film No Way Out, starring Sydney Poitier and Ruby Dee.

Davis and Dee were married for more than 56 years and together received Kennedy Center honours in 2004 for their body of work.

The Actors' Equity Association issued a statement calling Davis 'an icon in the American theatre' and he and Dee 'American treasures'.

Davis was also a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and was a voice for racial equality.

He was a featured speaker at the funerals of both Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X.

Besides Dee, Davis is survived by three children Nora, Hasna and Guy, a blues artist, and seven grandchildren.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/4238537.stm"

Friday, February 04, 2005

japantoday > asia > China tops world list for journalists jailed

Friday, February 4, 2005 at 10:08 JST
NEW YORK — China, Cuba, Eritrea and Myanmar accounted for more than three-quarters of the journalists imprisoned around the world in 2004, an organization for defending press freedom reported Thursday.
Of the 122 journalists in 20 nations who were in prison as of Dec 31 last year, 93 were in the four countries, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said. China topped the list in 2004 for the sixth consecutive year with 42, followed by Cuba with 23, Eritrea with 17 and Myanmar with 11, the committee said. (Kyodo News)


BBC > Annan vows action on corruption

Annan vows action on corruption
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has ordered disciplinary proceedings against the head of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, Benon Sevan.
The move came after an independent report accused Mr Sevan of unethical conduct undermining the UN's integrity.
Inquiry head Paul Volcker revealed in the initial findings by his panel that Mr Sevan repeatedly asked Iraqis to allocate oil to a particular company.
Mr Sevan denies any wrongdoing and said he was being made a scapegoat.
I made clear from the outset that no-one found to have broken any laws would be shielded from prosecution - I stand by that pledge.
Kofi Annan
The defunct scheme let Iraq sell oil to buy food and medicine to ease the effects of international sanctions.
It ran from 1996 to 2003.
Among the complaints about the controversial programme are claims that Saddam Hussein might have diverted part of the money for his own uses.
'Conflict of interest'
Mr Annan said in a statement following the report that he stood by a pledge made when the panel was set up that no-one found to have broken the law would be shielded from prosecution.
He would waive a member of staff's diplomatic immunity if criminal charges were pursued against them, he added.
Mr Annan said that disciplinary measures had already been taken against Mr Sevan and Joseph Stephanides, currently head of Security Council affairs.
Measures had also been taken to remedy defects in the initial procurement process for companies to carry out banking and inspection services, he said.
Mr Volcker was appointed last April to investigate the allegations of corruption. His final report is expected in June.
'Ethically improper'
The interim report by the independent team said Mr Sevan had "seriously undermined the integrity of the United Nations" by asking for allocations of oil on behalf of the African Middle East Petroleum Company.
Iraqi officials had agreed in a bid to secure Mr Sevan's support on issues such as funding to rebuild Iraq's oil installations, the report said.
Mr Sevan's conduct was "ethically improper", Mr Volcker told reporters in New York.
He "created a grave and continuing conflict of interest", the former US Federal Reserve chairman added.
Correspondents describe Mr Sevan as a veteran UN employee who has served in many of the world's trouble spots.
The Cypriot joined the organisation in 1965 and served in a variety of posts before his appointment as Executive Director of the Iraq Programme in 1997. He has now retired.
Separate inquiries are under way in the US Senate and by the Iraqi interim government.
An additional report on the secretary general and his son will be published later.
Mr Annan's son, Kojo, worked for a firm involved in the programme.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4235139.stm




CNN.com > Probe: Oil-for-food chief made illicit oil deals

CNN.com
Probe: Oil-for-food chief made illicit oil deals
Sevan's lawyer calls him 'scapegoat' in investigation
Thursday, February 3, 2005 Posted: 8:06 PM EST (0106 GMT)
Benon Sevan made illicit oil deals while leading the program, the report concludes.

Paul Volcker, chairman of the investigating committee, says the oil-for-food program chief violated explicit U.N. rules.

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The man in charge of the-oil-for food program for the United Nations made illicit oil deals with Iraq and "violated standards of integrity," according to an initial investigative report released Thursday.
According to investigating commission chairman Paul Volcker, the probe showed that between 1998 and 2001, Benon Sevan "repeatedly solicited," on behalf of a company called African Middle East Petroleum, several million barrels of oil worth about $1 million.
Sevan denied the allegations late Thursday afternoon.
A "definitive report" is due by mid-summer, and that report also will look at the role of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his son, Kojo. The son worked in the 1990s for Cotecna, a Swiss firm that won a contract to authenticate U.N.-approved shipments entering Iraq.
Kojo Annan has told CNN he never worked "directly or indirectly" in any U.N. business.
Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq was allowed to export a limited supply of its crude oil and earmark the revenues for purchases of food, medicine and supplies. The program was in effect from 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
U.S. investigators have said Iraq's government took in about $21 billion by circumventing the sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1991. U.S. congressional committees also are investigating the issue.
Talking to reporters Thursday, Volcker said, "The most disturbing finding is the accumulation of evidence that the director of the office of the Iraq program -- Mr. Benon Sevan -- in fact did repeatedly solicit oil allocations for a small trading company."
"The Iraqi government, in providing such allocations, certainly thought they were buying influence," he added.
"Mr. Sevan placed himself in a grave and continuing conflict-of-interest situation that violated explicit U.N. rules and violated the standards of integrity essential to a high-level international civil servant," Volcker said.
However, in an interview with CNN, Volcker stopped short of saying that Sevan had profited monetarily from the oil deals.
"We don't know whether he got any money out of it. The investigation is continuing. But he certainly put himself in a position where he was conflicted," Volcker said.
In 1998, the report says, Sevan received an allocation of 1.8 million barrels of oil. That year, the company did not take possession of the oil but sold it to two other companies for a nearly $300,000 profit. In 1999, Sevan, on behalf of AMEP and Fakhry Abdel Nour -- who represented the company -- contracted for 2 million barrels, which they sold for nearly a $500,000 profit.
According to the report, "Over the next two years [2000 and 2001] AMEP continued to receive more oil allocations."
Iraq oil ministry records indicate the sales were under Sevan's name, without indicating the company's involvement.
In one instance in October 2001, AMEP paid an illegal surcharge of $160,000 to an Iraqi-controlled bank account in Jordan.
The report notes that according to U.N. financial disclosure forms, Sevan received $160,000 in four cash payments from 1999 to 2003. He listed them on his financial disclosure forms as cash from an aunt who lived in Cyprus and who was a retired government photographer.
"According to a longtime family friend, she never had shown signs of having access to large amounts of cash," the report says.
According to the report, Iraq provided the oil to Sevan in an effort to gain his support on several issues, including paying to repair and rebuild Iraqi infrastructure.
"It's clear ... that a major source of illicit funds to Iraq and the Iraq regime resulted from sanction violations that were outside the framework of the oil-for-food program -- so-called smuggling to Jordan, to Turkey, eventually to Syria then to Egypt," Volcker said.
Bakhtiar Amin, Iraq human rights minister, told CNN on Thursday that hundreds of dignitaries from various countries benefited from Iraqi oil sales.
"I hope the U.N. will investigate deeper in this issue," he said.
Sevan's counsel, Eric Lewis, issued a written statement saying, "It is unfortunate that the independent investigative committee has succumbed to massive political pressure and now seeks to scapegoat undersecretary-general and former executive director of the Iraq program, Benon Sevan, for problems with the oil-for-food program.
"Mr. Sevan ran the largest humanitarian program in U.N. history, a program that literally saved tens of thousands of innocent people from death by disease and starvation," Lewis said.
Sevan, a 40-year U.N. employee, was appointed in 1997 as executive director of the oil-for-food program. Before that he was assistant secretary-general for conference and support services. He was U.N. security coordinator until 2002, and had postings in Afghanistan and Pakistan early in his U.N. career.
Volcker stressed that his team had not found systematic misuse of funds by those who administered the program. He said there was careful budgeting, and "the accounting trail is adequate."
In his written response to the report, Kofi Annan said, "Mr. Volcker has said that 'the findings do not make for pleasant reading,' and I agree."
Annan, who said he forwarded the report to the Security Council, pointed out that last year he ordered the "independent inquiry into the administration and management of the oil-for-food program, including allegations of fraud and corruption."
"I made clear from the outset that no one found to have broken any laws would be shielded from prosecution. I stand by that pledge."
Annan added that he was pleased the committee found no wrongdoing in the United Nations' budgeting, accounting and administration for the program.
Among those interviewed in the probe was Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Annan's predecessor from 1992 to 1996.
In other reaction to the report, Adam Ereli, deputy State Department spokesman, said, "We welcome the report. We will be looking at it. We take the allegations seriously and we want to get to the bottom of what happened. We think it's important that transparency and accountability be preserved."
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Thursday, February 03, 2005

BBC > UK envoy 'is an enemy' of Kenya

Kenyan ministers have reacted angrily to comments by the British high commissioner to Kenya accusing the government of "massive looting".
"Sir Edward Clay has just behaved as an enemy of this government," Justice and Constitutional Minister Kiraitu Murungi told Kenyan state radio.
Meanwhile the vice-president said Kenyans did not need to be dictated to by foreigners.
President Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002 promising an anti-sleaze crusade.
But Kenya - ranked 122 out of 133 countries in a corruption survey by Transparency International in 2003 - has been repeatedly criticised by donors for not doing enough to tackle corruption in high places .
Sir Edward also made headlines last year, lambasting Kenya's failure to tackle graft.
'Home-grown methods'
Mr Murungi said the government would file a formal protest to Britain about Sir Edward's "extravagant statements" and he questioned the high commissioner's timing.
People outside Kenya... manipulate people inside Kenya... with an ease and confidence which is frightening
Sir Edward Clay
British envoy to Kenya
"What he is saying is not very new; a lot of corruption... took place during the previous regime. We did not get a word about it from the British High Commission."
According to Vice-President Moody Awori, the government's fight against corruption was continuing, but needed more time.
"We are going to use our own home-grown methods, not anybody else's," he said.
Sir Edward's comments come a month after John Githong'o, a senior government anti-graft adviser, warned that efforts to prosecute those accused of corruption were meeting resistance from powerful interests in the administration.
"We are not talking about minor corruption," Sir Edward said in speech at Kenya's Journalist of the Year awards on Wednesday.
"We are talking about massive looting and/or grand corruption which... has a huge impact on Kenya's economy."
"People outside Kenya... manipulate people inside Kenya, near to or actually in the government, with an ease and confidence which is frightening."
Last July, Sir Edward accused unnamed corrupt officials of behaving "like gluttons" and "vomiting on the shoes" of donors.
He said he did not regret his words and he had underestimated the scale of the problem.
Scandals
Following the allegations the government said it had fought corruption by sacking corrupt police officers and forming a department of ethics and good governance.
It summoned Sir Edward to "give facts and figures and to name names".
He has since given a dossier to the Kenyan president that he says details corruption and fraudulent procurement worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
He said those suspected of involvement in corruption, including government ministers, should be removed so that investigations are not hindered.
"If the herdsman... finds a leopard has entered the boma [homestead], he will first eject the leopard before seeing what damage it has done," the British envoy said.
"He cannot... hope to assess the damage while the leopard is still there."
Donors, who stopped lending to Kenya under previous President Daniel arap Moi, reopened cash channels under Mr Kibaki.
But they have criticised the lack of progress and threatened to cut off funds once more.
One of the recent scandals involved a deal for the Kenyan government to buy equipment from a front company.
The project fell through before $41.5m could be handed over. No one involved in the scam has been prosecuted.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/4230779.stm



BBC > Rumsfeld twice offered to resign

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has revealed he twice offered to resign during a crisis last year over prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail.
In a CNN interview, Mr Rumsfeld said he was ready to take responsibility for the scandal over pictures showing US troops and staff mistreating prisoners.
But he said each time he offered to go, President Bush asked him to stay on.
The BBC's Adam Brookes at the Pentagon says Mr Rumsfeld's position now looks even more secure.
Last year was a bruising year for the combative defence secretary, our correspondent says.
In Iraq, the insurgency inflamed cities across the country and then lurid photographs of American troops abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison were published around the world.
But the Bush administration has been much encouraged by Sunday's elections in Iraq.
'No regrets'
Mr Rumsfeld did not specify when he offered to quit.
We've made a lot of corrections to make sure that those kinds of things [that] happened either don't happen again or are immediately found out and limited and contained
Donald Rumsfeld
"I submitted my resignation to President Bush twice during that period and told him that ... I felt that he ought to make the decision as to whether or not I stayed on. And he made that decision and said he did want me to stay on," he told the programme Larry King Live.
But he said his conscience was clear.
"What was going on in the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib prison halfway across the world is something that clearly someone in Washington DC can't manage or deal with. And so I have no regrets," he said.
But Mr Rumsfeld said steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.
"We've made a lot of corrections to make sure that those kinds of things [that] happened either don't happen again or are immediately found out and limited and contained," he said.
In August an investigation found that senior Pentagon and military officials contributed to an atmosphere in which prisoners suffered abuse and failed to properly monitor conduct of detention policies.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4235045.stm

]


BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush sets out second-term goals

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush sets out second-term goals

Bush sets out second-term goals
US President George W Bush has said his ultimate goal is to end tyranny in the world, in his first State of the Union address since his re-election.

He castigated the governments of Syria and Iran, urging them both to end what he called their support for terrorism.

Mr Bush also said the goal of a Palestinian state was within reach, and hailed the recent elections in Iraq.

He also promised to partially privatise the US pensions system - prompting booing from opposition Democrats.

Such signs of dissent are highly unusual during a State of the Union address.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch the address

BBC Washington correspondent Justin Webb says this was a confident performance from a president buoyed up by the weekend poll in Iraq.

"Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honoured in Iraq," Mr Bush said.

As expected, the president did not outline a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, but he said progress made in training Iraq's security forces was gradually reducing the burden.



In the audience, the mother of a US marine who was killed in Iraq and an Iraqi human rights activist tearfully embraced as Mr Bush honoured those "who died for our freedom".

Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, was critical of the president's Iraq policy.

"We have never heard a clear plan from this administration for ending our presence in Iraq, and we did not hear one tonight," she said.

Mr Bush's overall approval ratings are lower than any other re-elected president in recent years.

But our correspondent says the president has real political clout - partly from the fact that his Republican Party controls both houses of Congress and partly from the election in Iraq.

Middle East peace

On efforts to promote Middle East peace, the president said he would ask Congress for $350m to support Palestinian political, economic and security reforms.

"The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace is within reach - and America will help them achieve that goal," Mr Bush said.

The US media moved quickly from the speech itself to the anticipated pitched battle between President Bush and his Democratic opponents in Congress

President Bush made a passing reference to North Korea, saying that he was working with Asian allies to convince Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Bush saved most of his criticism for Iran, calling it "the world's primary state sponsor of terror" and accusing it of pursuing nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies.

But the president emphasised diplomacy, saying he was working with European allies to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

The president spoke directly to the Iranian people, encouraging them to seek democracy.

Mr Bush also singled out Syria, pressing it to "end all support for terror".

And in a rare message to allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he said they too must embrace democratic reforms.

Domestic ambition

Throughout the 40-minute speech, many of the president's points were met with loud applause and standing ovations.

But the first half of Mr Bush's speech focused on domestic policy - and this is where he received loud heckles from some members of Congress.

He spoke in detail about his plans for younger workers to divert some of their taxes into personal investment accounts to ensure they receive a pension when they retire.

Responding to Mr Bush's speech, Senate minority leader Harry Reid said the plan for social security was "dangerous" because it would add to national debt.

"That's an immoral burden to place on the backs of the next generation," he added.

The White House says that, in just over a decade, the US will have to start paying out more money under its social security pensions scheme than it can collect in taxes unless urgent changes are made.

Our correspondent says pensions used to be called the third rail of American politics - touch them and you die. Mr Bush feels confident enough to disregard that warning, he adds.

Mr Bush is to spend the next two days pitching his plans in states that supported him for president last year, and where he believes he might get support from members of Congress.

His first stop is Fargo, North Dakota. From there he goes to Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas and Florida.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4228927.stm

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Star Trek spin-off TV series axed

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Star Trek spin-off TV series axed

Star Trek spin-off TV series axed
Star Trek: Enterprise, the latest TV incarnation of the sci-fi saga, is being axed by broadcaster UPN.

Its 98th and final episode will air in the US on 13 May, after a four-season run which struggled in the ratings.

Presented as a prequel to the original Star Trek television series, Enterprise made its debut in September 2001 starring Scott Bakula.

It followed earlier Star Trek spin-off series The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Mixed response

Set 100 years before Captain James T Kirk and his crew set off on their first mission, Enterprise made its UK debut on Sky One in 2002.

Its opening show featured former Quantum Leap star Bakula taking charge of a new crew and sharing a shower with Vulcan sub-commander T'Pol, played by Jolene Blalock.

On its broadcast BBC correspondent Peter Bowes said: "Some fans may be disappointed by the emphasis on fast action rather than intellectual depth."

The series also received a mixed response from US critics and Star Trek fans.

With the original TV series first broadcast in 1969, Star Trek also spawned 10 movie spin-offs, the most recent being Nemesis in 2002.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/4231873.stm

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

BBC > UK's Kenya envoy in fresh attack

UK's Kenya envoy in fresh attack
Britain's high commissioner to Kenya has launched a fresh attack on corruption there, alleging the "massive looting" of public funds.
Edward Clay made headlines last July, lambasting President Mwai Kibaki's government for failing to tackle graft.
But in a speech to journalists on Wednesday, he said he underestimated the scale of the problem.
He said Kenyan officials were collaborating with foreigners to steal many millions of dollars.
"We are not talking about minor corruption. We are talking about massive looting and/or grand corruption which in toto has a huge impact on Kenya's economy," he said at Kenya's Journalist of the Year awards.
"People outside Kenya... manipulate people inside Kenya, near to or actually in the government, with an ease and confidence which is frightening."
Funding resumed
Mr Kibaki vowed to tackle widespread corruption when he was elected in December 2002, but there have been no high level prosecutions.
Kenya was ranked 122 out of 133 countries in a corruption survey by Transparency International in 2003.
Donors, who stopped lending to Kenya under previous President Daniel arap Moi, reopened cash channels under Mr Kibaki.
But they have criticised the lack of progress and threatened to cut off funds once more.
One of the recent scandals involved a deal for the Kenyan government to buy equipment from a front company.
The project fell through before $41.5m could be handed over. No one involved in the scam has been prosecuted.
After Mr Clay's allegations in July, the government said it had fought corruption by sacking corrupt police officers and forming a department of ethics and good governance.
It summoned Mr Clay to "give facts and figures and to name names".
He has since given a dossier to the Kenyan president that he says details corruption and fraudulent procurement worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
He said those suspected of involvement in corruption, including government ministers, should be removed so that investigations are not hindered.
"If the herdsman... finds a leopard has entered the boma [homestead], he will first eject the leopard before seeing what damage it has done," he said.
"He cannot... hope to assess the damage while the leopard is still there."
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/4230779.stm




Monday, January 31, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Hillary Clinton suffers collapse

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Hillary Clinton suffers collapse

Hillary Clinton suffers collapse
US Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has collapsed during a public appearance in Buffalo, New York state.

She fainted during an address to a chamber of commerce lunch.

An aide to Sen Clinton, 57, said she had a virus and felt unwell, but she recovered to give another speech, as planned, later on.

The senator was not taken to hospital despite earlier reports she had been hospitalised, our correspondent says.

"Senator Clinton is suffering from a stomach virus," a statement on her Senate website said.

"She wasn't feeling well while speaking at an event in Buffalo, New York, this morning. She felt weak, needed to sit down, and then fainted briefly.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Born 26 October, 1947 in Chicago
Attended Wellesley College
Graduated from Yale Law School in 1973
Married Bill Clinton in 1975
Campaigner for expanding health insurance coverage and woman's rights
Elected New York senator in 2000

Mrs Clinton told the crowd she was feeling weak and had had a stomach virus, Colleen DiPirro, president of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, told a local radio station.

She started to speak then collapsed, Ms DiPirro said.

The senator received medical attention at the scene and was able to fulfil another speaking engagement at a Catholic college later on.

"It wasn't as dramatic as it sounds," the Associated Press news agency quoted Mrs Clinton as saying after the 30-minute speech.

The senator has been widely tipped as a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Last September her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/4224241.stm

japantoday > world African leaders meet for summit

Monday, January 31, 2005 at 07:28 JST
ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo implored dozens of fellow African leaders Sunday to work together to overcome the poverty, disease and conflict afflicting the world's poorest continent.
War took center stage at the opening of the African Union's two-day conference, where leaders planned to discuss ways they could help end fighting in Ivory Coast, Congo and Sudan's western Darfur region.

"Let us show to the world that we can really tackle and solve African issues," said Obasanjo, who holds the group's rotating leadership.
While most of the world has grown wealthier in the four decades since the majority of African countries won independence, the continent mostly has grown poorer. Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the Ethiopia-based AU Commission, blamed Africa's persistent conflicts.
"If the security of our continent doesn't improve, no development is possible," he told leaders of at least 40 of Africa's 53 nations.
Citing reports from AU observers on the ground in Darfur, a United Nations spokeswoman said Friday that nearly 100 villagers in the region's south had been killed or wounded when a Sudanese warplane attacked a town.
The governor of North Darfur state said the report was fabricated by foreigners, according to a statement published Sunday by the official news agency.
Obasanjo condemned the attack Sunday.
"We can't but condemn such carnage no matter what excuse may be raised to try to justify it," he said.
The Darfur conflict began two years ago when two groups rebelled against the Arab-dominated government, saying Sudanese of African origin had endured years of neglect and discrimination. The government responded with a military campaign in which an Arab militia was accused of committing widespread abuses.
Some 1.8 million people fled their homes to escape violence in Darfur, the United Nations said in calling the conflict the world's worst humanitarian crisis at the time.
The African leaders also are expected to discuss reform of the United Nations. The continent has been pushing for more say in U.N. affairs, which long have been dominated by the Security Council's five permanent members — the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France.
Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous nation and a regional political and military heavyweight, is angling for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council.
The leaders also are likely to consider a Libyan proposal to abolish customs duties on trade between African countries, a move intended to speed economic integration on the continent and encourage greater political cooperation. (Wire reports)




japantoday > national Japan reviews guidelines for defense cooperation with U.S.

Monday, January 31, 2005 at 07:10 JST
TOKYO — The Japanese government is reviewing the guidelines for defense cooperation with the United States to address new security challenges such as terrorism, the threat of weapons of mass destruction and military developments in North Korea and China, government sources said Sunday.
Ahead of updating the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, Tokyo and Washington are also hoping to hold a summit by the fall to produce a joint statement on security or similar document of agreement, the sources said. (Kyodo News)


BBC > World leaders praise Iraqi poll

World leaders have praised the conduct of Iraq's first multi-party elections for more than 50 years.
President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - the leaders of the two nations which led the invasion of Iraq - hailed them as a resounding success.
And UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iraqis should be encouraged to take control of their own future.
After what officials said was a higher turnout than expected, the next few days will be spent counting votes.
Preliminary results are expected in about six days, with a full result not due for 10 days.
But correspondents say there was a marked division in voting - high in Shia and Kurdish strongholds and much lower in Sunni Arab areas.
The election was marred by a series of election-day attacks across Iraq which killed at least 36 people.
And just before voting officially ended, a British military transport plane crashed north of Baghdad killing at least nine soldiers.
'Moving and humbling'
Mr Bush congratulated the Iraqi people on a "great and historical achievement".
A large number of people have shown up to vote: men and women, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shias
Iraqi woman,
Baghdad
"The Iraqi people themselves made this election a resounding success," he said.
"They have demonstrated the kind of courage that is always the foundation of self-government."
In London, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the election as "moving" and "humbling".
The Iraqis "came out despite the dangers," he said.
Countries which opposed the invasion also said the election had been good news for Iraqis.
French President Jacques Chirac described them as a "great success for the international community", while a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the high turnout showed Iraqis wanted to take their future into their own hands.
Mr Annan, meanwhile, said the Iraqis had shown courage.
""The Iraqis who turned out today are courageous, they know that they are voting for the future of their country," he said.
"We must encourage them and support them to take control of their destiny."
'Eight million votes'
One of Iraq's most influential religious figures, the senior Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, thanked Iraqis for voting.
ELECTION SCHEDULE
Sunday: Polls opened for 10 hours, with an extension for those still queuing to vote at 1700 (1400 GMT)
Vote counting for four or days days
Early March: PM appointed
Late March: Government formed
He said he regretted not being able to do so himself because he is Iranian by birth.
Electoral officials estimated that up to eight million Iraqis voted - more than 60% of those registered.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi expatriates in 14 other countries also voted in a mainly peaceful atmosphere, although scuffles broke out in the UK.
More than 200 parties and coalitions are competing for seats in the transitional assembly, which will draft a new Iraqi constitution ahead of planned elections for a full-term parliament.
Voting at polling stations in the country's south and north was brisk, and there were smiles and tears of joy among voters. . But reports from central Sunni cities say not all polling stations opened, and there was at best a trickle of voters as voters stayed away out of fear of attack or opposition to the election itself.
Authorities had imposed an unprecedented series of security measures - including shoot-on-sight curfews, closed foreign borders, a ban on cars and travel restrictions within Iraq.
Despite the measures, the capital was hit by nine suicide bombings and a number of mortar attacks.
In an internet statement, a group said to be led by militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed to be behind some attacks in Baghdad and Mosul.
You can watch John Simpson's Panorama programme on the state of Iraq on BBC World television on Saturday 5 February at 0810, 1210 and 2210 GMT.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4220551.stm


Sunday, January 30, 2005

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bangladesh strike sparks clashes

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bangladesh strike sparks clashes

Bangladesh strike sparks clashes
At least 40 people have been injured and another 40 detained after clashes between police and protesters erupted during a general strike in Bangladesh.

Police baton-charged protesters in the capital, Dhaka, where rioters attacked buses and rickshaws which defied the strike, Bangladesh television reported.

The strike was called by the opposition Awami League, after a deadly bomb attack on a party rally on Thursday.

The three-day stoppage has brought much of the country to a standstill.

In Dhaka, a city of nearly 10 million people, streets were deserted as the first day of the strike began to bite.

Across the country, schools and businesses have closed and there is little traffic on the streets on Saturday, normally a working day.

Barbed wire

Mobs stopped trains from running in several places, leaving many passengers stranded, while buses and rickshaws have been attacked and set alight, according to reports.

Thousands of police and troops were deployed at key locations around Dhaka, police said.

Security forces erected barbed wire barricades around the Awami League headquarters in the capital, as hundreds of League supporters shouted anti-government slogans.

The League has blamed the government for the attack on the party rally, which killed former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria, and four other League officials.

The government has denied involvement and called for an investigation.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack and so far there have been no arrests.

In Dhaka on Saturday, riot police used batons to disperse demonstrators and arrested more than 40 people, police chief Mizanur Rahman told AFP news agency.

Five people were also arrested during scuffles in the port city of Chittagong, AFP said.

The latest violence comes a day after dozens of people were hurt when police fired tear gas at demonstrators carrying Mr Kibria's coffin to a martyr's monument, the news agency quoted witnesses as saying.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/4218741.stm

Published: 2005/01/29 16:40:54 GMT

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq election declared 'success'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq election declared 'success'

Iraq election declared 'success'
The first multi-party election in Iraq for 50 years has been declared a success at the end of polling.

The electoral commission claimed a high turnout and US President George W Bush congratulated the Iraqi people on a "great and historical achievement".

A series of election-day attacks across the country killed at least 36 people, health officials say.

Correspondents also say there was a marked division in turnout between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish strongholds.

In the Shia Muslim south and Kurdish north of the country, lines formed at polling stations and there were smiles and tears of joy among voters.

But polling stations in many Sunni-dominated cities in the centre of Iraq were closed or deserted, as voters stayed away out of fear of attack or opposition to the poll, reports said.

Just before polls officially closed, a British military transport plane crashed north of Baghdad. The cause is not known, and there is no word on casualties.

'Resounding success'

Voting was to have ended at 1700 (1400 GMT) but was extended to allow people waiting at polling stations to cast their ballots.

Iraqi electoral officials estimated that up to eight million Iraqis could have voted - more than 60% of those registered.

A large number of people have shown up to vote: men and women, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shias
Iraqi woman,
Baghdad

Earlier, top UN electoral adviser Carlos Valenzuela offered a more cautious assessment, saying turnout appeared to be high in many areas, but that it was too early to know for sure.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Baghdad says the question now centres on how many Sunnis will have voted - in other words, whether these elections produce a government of all Iraqis.

In Washington, Mr Bush acknowledged that the "insurgents will continue to wage war".

But he said "the Iraqi people themselves made this election a resounding success".

More than 200 parties and coalitions are competing for seats in the transitional assembly, which will draft a new Iraqi constitution ahead of planned elections for a full-term parliament.

Country divided

Voting at polling stations in the country's south and north was brisk. Some voters described the day as "the most important in their lives".


ELECTION SCHEDULE
Sunday: Polls opened for 10 hours, with an extension for those still queuing to vote at 1700 (1400 GMT)
Next week: Vote counting for 4 or 5 days
Early March: PM appointed
Late March: Government formed

But reports from central Sunni cities, such as Falluja, Samarra and Ramadi, say not all polling stations opened, and there was at best a trickle of voters.

Insurgent threats of violence may have deterred some, but others may be obeying boycotts of the elections called by some Sunni political parties, correspondents say.

Others may not want to legitimise an election they believe is offering false hope, observers say.

Authorities had imposed an unprecedented series of security measures - including shoot-on-sight curfews, closed foreign borders, a ban on cars and travel restrictions within Iraq.

Despite the measures, the capital was hit by nine suicide bombings and a number of mortar attacks - mostly soon after polls opened.

In an internet statement, a group said to be led by militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed to be behind some attacks in Baghdad and Mosul.

But the security measures have had an effect, says the BBC's security correspondent Paul Welsh, as the bombs were far smaller than they could have been, packed into cars.

You can watch John Simpson's Panorama programme on the state of Iraq on BBC One on Sunday 30 January at 2215 GMT and on BBC World television on Saturday 5 February at 0810, 1210 and 2210 GMT.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4220551.stm

Los Angelas Times > China and Taiwan -- Polls Apart

China and Taiwan -- Polls Apart

GLOBAL DEMOCRACY
China and Taiwan -- Polls Apart
By Sam Crane
Sam Crane teaches Chinese politics and philosophy at Williams College and is the author of "Aidan's Way."

January 30, 2005

Democracy has transformed Taiwan, and the change demonstrates how political participation can shape national identity and international politics.

Fifteen years ago, it was easy to accept the idea that Taiwan was a part of China. Most people on the island defined themselves as Chinese, and their government was named and was acknowledged — though not diplomatically recognized by many countries — as the Republic of China. The official policy of the People's Republic of China demanded that Taiwan be viewed as a province of the mainland, and the United States vaguely accepted a "one China" principle.

Some things are not so straightforward anymore.

Mandarin discourse is still useful on the streets of Taipei, and the Chinese cuisine is the best anywhere. The National Palace Museum remains an extraordinary trove of Sinological art treasures.

National identity, however, is more than cultural practices and traditions. Linguistic and other affinities are not enough to classify Taiwan as "Chinese," just as the United States could hardly be considered part of a "British" empire anymore.

What matters for any national identity is politics. And Taiwan's domestic politics have long been detached from China's. Since 1895, a mainland government has ruled the island for only about four years, 1945-49. When the Nationalist Party lost the civil war in 1949 and fled to Taiwan, it maintained for many years that it was the government of all China, though it never was.

Since democratization began in Taiwan in 1986, the "return to the mainland" myth has further receded. Free and fair elections have turned people's attention inward.

The democratic political life shared by millions of Taiwanese is forging a common civic identity distinct from China's. This Taiwanese national identity is not merely an invention of those who want to publicly declare independence, something that Beijing's leaders say they will go to war to prevent. It is the natural evolution of democratic participation.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the notion of the "status quo." For mainland China and the U.S., it refers to the "one China" principle, a reflection of the politics of the 1970s — before democracy took root in Taiwan. For many Taiwanese, perhaps most, it has come to mean the situation that has actually prevailed since 1986, an empirical independence that allows them to rule themselves without Chinese control.

But the people of Taiwan are not unanimous in seeing themselves as wholly separate from China. Debates about national identity are a central feature of the island's boisterous democracy.

The momentum of nationhood, however, seems to have reached a point of no return. Taiwan is a democratic nation; China is not. It is difficult to foresee circumstances that would allow for real unification.

The dilemma for Taiwan is the contradiction between its democratic development and its geopolitical context. China's nationalist passions are real. For any mainland Chinese politician, President Hu Jintao included, to be seen as soft on Taiwan independence is to open oneself to charges of treason. Even if political liberalization were to emerge tomorrow, Chinese demagogues could argue that a separate Taiwan is a wound to the nation's pride. So Chinese leaders continue to threaten and isolate Taiwan.

If the Bush administration thinks the Taiwan question has faded, it is sorely mistaken. Taiwan is not really a part of China any longer. It has grown into a thriving and mature democracy where people join together in constructive self-government and see themselves as a nation like any other. The status quo has changed.

Daily Herald

Daily Herald: "Woods' caddie injures hand in racing accident
Associated Press
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Tiger Woods' caddie was released from a hospital Sunday after having surgery on his left hand.

Steve Williams gashed his hand to the bone Friday in an auto race when his modified saloon car flipped and hit a safety wall on the last lap of a dirt-track event at the Baypark Speedway in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Television footage of the crash showed Williams' car touched another while leading narrowly on the last bend of the race, slid sideways then rolled several times before striking the track's outer fence. The car was extensively damaged and track officials said Williams was lucky to avoid more serious injury.

Williams, recovering at home Sunday, said he did not know when he would be able to carry Woods' bag again.

'My hand's going to take a couple of months to heal properly, apparently,' he said.

Williams called Woods at his Orlando, Fla., home Friday to tell him about the accident.

'When I called him he said, 'You sound a bit groggy,'�' Williams said. 'I said, 'That's because I'm lying in a hospital bed.' 'He said, 'Don't tell me you had a wreck.'�'

Williams, who is left-handed, said Woods offered to send his private plane to New Zealand to pick him up.

Woods, the Buick Invitational winner last week, will return to play Feb. 17 in the Nissan Open at Riviera in Los Angeles."