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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Bush's hawk is not fit to be UN envoy, says Powell - World - Times Online

Bush's hawk is not fit to be UN envoy, says Powell - World - Times Online: America

April 23, 2005

Bush's hawk is not fit to be UN envoy, says Powell
From Roland Watson in Washington
THE prospects of John Bolton becoming the next US Ambassador to the United Nations have suffered another setback with Colin Powell, his former boss, raising doubts about his fitness for the job.

General Powell told key Republican senators that President Bush’s controversial nominee was a man of suspect temperament who clashed with colleagues.

The general’s intervention comes after lurid accounts of Mr Bolton’s volatile temper and ill-treatment of subordinates raised eleventh-hour doubts about his confirmation.

In a further blow, the former US Ambassador to South Korea has suggested that Mr Bolton misled the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when under oath earlier this month.

Thomas Hubbard said that far from praising Mr Bolton for a 2003 speech on North Korea, as the would-be ambassador had claimed, he had urged him to tone down his antagonistic rhetoric. The upshot is that what looked at the beginning of the week like a straightforward confirmation is in serious danger of falling apart.

On Tuesday the Republican-controlled committee postponed a vote on Mr Bolton’s nomination to permit further investigation of the allegations. Mr Bush had praised Mr Bolton as a “good man”.

Three Republican members have raised public doubts about Mr Bolton and General Powell’s behind-the-scenes role could prove pivotal. He has spoken to two of the wavering Republicans, Lincoln Chafee, from Rhode Island, and Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska.

General Powell’s aides said that he gave the two senators a balanced opinion of Mr Bolton. But the former Secretary of State is known to have clashed repeatedly with the hawkish Mr Bolton, one of his senior officials in the first Bush term.

General Powell notably failed to join seven other former secretaries of state and defence in signing a letter in support of Mr Bolton’s nomination. Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff, told The New York Times that Mr Bolton would make “an abysmal ambassador”.

Mr Chafee, a moderate facing re-election next year in a Democratic state, said he was much less likely to support Mr Bolton in the light of questions about his credibility. George Voinovich, an independent Republican with a maverick streak, is also wavering.

Democrats have said that Mr Bolton’s record of blunt outbursts and confrontational behaviour make him especially ill-suited to the UN job. He has also railed against the institution itself.

White House officials insist that the charges against him — that he is a bully who meddled with intelligence on Cuba’s alleged biological weapons programme and tried to remove officials who disagreed with him — are “trumped up”.

They have also suggested that Democrats would regret it if they successfully blocked the nomination, arguing that only he has sufficient credibility with the Republican-controlled US Congress, which is hostile to the UN, to persuade it that Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, was genuinely reforming the world body.

But Mr Hubbard also accused Mr Bolton of “undiplomatic behaviour”, saying that he failed to attend a dinner the ambassador had arranged with senior South Koreans. On another occasion Mr Bolton angrily hung up on him when Mr Hubbard failed to secure a meeting with the South Korean President-elect.

# President Bush named Marine Corps General Peter Pace, who quietly helped to shape the Pentagon’s role in the war on terrorism, to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Pace, 59, would succeed Air Force General Richard Myers. He is expected to win easy Senate confirmation.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan and China leaders to meet

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan and China leaders to meet
Japan and China leaders to meet
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday, amid efforts to defuse a row between the two countries.

The two leaders are attending an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia that has been overshadowed by the dispute.

It centres on the approval by Tokyo of new school textbooks which China says gloss over Japan's wartime aggression.

Addressing delegates on Friday, Mr Koizumi reiterated his country's "deep remorse" over World War II.

The two men are at the Asia-African summit in Jakarta, which is being attended by 80 nations.

'Tremendous damage'

They will meet later on Saturday, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, but the exact time is unknown.

"The prime minister said they will talk about friendship and cooperation, which are the key to prosperity of the region," Akira Chiba, a spokesman for Mr Koizumi's delegation, told the Associated Press news agency.

For its part, China welcomed the Japanese prime minister's statement of regret, but demanded some action from Japan.

"That... Koizumi expressed this attitude in this arena is welcome," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan.

"But to express it is one aspect. What's of much more importance is the action. You have to make it a reality," he added.

When the summit started on Friday, Mr Koizumi said: "In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations.

Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage
Junichiro Koizumi
Japanese prime minister
"Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility."

The wording repeats previous Japanese apologies - but analysts say the international setting gives the statement added weight.

The BBC's Tim Johnston in Jakarta says the apology should go some way to placating Chinese anger, which was recently reignited by a history textbook that the Chinese felt paid insufficient attention to atrocities.

UN differences

However China protested on Friday over the visit by Japanese lawmakers to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo honouring the Japanese who died during World War II, including a number of war criminals.

"As Sino-Japanese relations are facing a serious situation, we express our strong dissatisfaction over the negative actions of some Japanese politicians who ignore the larger interests," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

In his address, Mr Koizumi also repeated Japan's call for an overhaul of the UN Security Council and underscored Tokyo's qualifications as a potential permanent member.

Japan's campaign for a permanent seat on the Security Council has been one of the factors fuelling the recent anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Bush Backs His U.N. Nominee, but Powell Warns of Volatility

The New York Times > Washington > April 22, 2005
Bush Backs His U.N. Nominee, but Powell Warns of Volatility

WASHINGTON, April 21 - President Bush on Thursday issued a strong new defense of John R. Bolton, his nominee as ambassador to the United Nations. But associates of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, said he had expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton in conversations with at least two wavering Republican senators.

The associates said Mr. Powell, in private telephone conversations, had made clear his concerns about Mr. Bolton on several fronts, including his harsh treatment of subordinates.

The associates said Mr. Powell had also praised Mr. Bolton's performance on some matters during his tenure as under secretary of state, but they said Mr. Powell had stopped well short of the endorsements offered by Mr. Bush and by Mr. Powell's own successor, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The accounts of Mr. Powell's private messages about Mr. Bolton suggested a new gulf between the former secretary of state and Mr. Bush. In a speech in Washington on Thursday, Mr. Bush portrayed Democratic opposition to Mr. Bolton as politically driven, and urged the Senate to confirm the nomination.

Mr. Bush's comment and others by a White House spokesman suggested that the administration was determined to defend Mr. Bolton's nomination, despite crumbling support among Senate Republicans that has left the nomination in peril.

In his speech on Thursday, to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Mr. Bush brought up the subject quickly, saying, "I welcome you to the nation's capital, where sometimes politics gets in the way of doing the people's business."

"Take John Bolton, the good man I nominated to represent our country at the United Nations," Mr. Bush said. "John's distinguished career in service to our nation demonstrates that he is the right man at the right time for this important assignment. I urge the Senate to put politics aside and confirm John Bolton to the United Nations."

Mr. Powell has not spoken publicly about the Bolton nomination. But his associates said he had told two Republican senators, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, that he had been troubled by the way Mr. Bolton had treated an intelligence analyst and others at the State Department who had disagreed with him.

Mr. Chafee and Mr. Hagel, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have expressed concern about Mr. Bolton's temperament, credibility and treatment of intelligence analysts. The senators' concerns, with those of Senator George V. Voinovich, the Ohio Republican, were among the factors that led the committee to postpone a vote on Mr. Bolton's nomination until next month.

Accounts were conflicting as to whether Mr. Powell or the senators had initiated the phone calls. A spokeswoman for Mr. Powell said he had only returned calls from others, but one person familiar with one conversation said it had been Mr. Powell who had reached out to Mr. Hagel.

In testifying against Mr. Bolton's nomination, Carl W. Ford Jr., a former assistant secretary of state, told the committee that Mr. Powell had acted in 2002 to reassure intelligence analysts troubled by Mr. Bolton's harsh treatment of one of their colleagues, Christian P. Westermann, in a dispute related to Cuba. Mr. Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, said in an interview this week that Mr. Bolton would be an "abysmal ambassador" to the United Nations.

This month, five former Republican secretaries of state signed a letter to the Senate committee that endorsed Mr. Bolton's nomination, but Mr. Powell was not among them. In a telephone conversation with Mr. Chafee, the associates said, Mr. Powell said he had not joined in the endorsement in part because he did not normally sign group letters, but also because he believed such endorsements were appropriate only in cases where his point of view was clear cut.

Told of the accounts provided by Mr. Powell's associates, Peggy Cifrino, a spokeswoman for Mr. Powell, said in an e-mail message: "To be precise, General Powell has returned calls from senators who wanted to discuss specific questions that have been raised. He has not reached out to senators. The general considers the discussions private."

Mr. Powell was secretary of state under Mr. Bush for nearly four years, and told associates in 2004 that he was looking forward to returning to private life. But he was described by some associates as hurt that Mr. Bush, in selecting Ms. Rice as the new secretary, did not ask Mr. Powell if he wanted to stay.

Mr. Powell remains highly regarded by many moderate Republicans, but as secretary of state, his relationship with Vice President Dick Cheney was notably strained, according to many accounts, including a detailed narrative in "Plan of Attack," the latest book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

Mr. Cheney is now regarded as Mr. Bolton's chief patron in the administration, and some officials say he has strongly resisted the idea that the White House might withdraw the nomination in the face of Democratic complaints and Republican wavering.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said Thursday that the White House would try vigorously to answer any questions that Republican senators had about Mr. Bolton's nomination, and he dismissed as unsubstantiated the allegations that Mr. Bolton had behaved inappropriately with intelligence analysts and other subordinates.

In a brief interview this week, Mr. Chafee declined to discuss any conversation with Mr. Powell, saying, "I'm going to keep some things confidential." A spokesman for Mr. Hagel, Mike Buttry, said only: "Senator Hagel and Secretary Powell speak frequently about a lot of things. Senator Hagel doesn't comment on their private conversations."

A spokesman for Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Republican chairman of the committee, said Mr. Lugar, of Indiana, had not spoken with Mr. Powell about the nomination.

The associates of Mr. Powell who discussed the matter did so in response to repeated questions in recent days. They would not allow their names to be used, saying they did not want to add to tensions between Mr. Powell and the White House, but they said they wanted to provide an accurate account of Mr. Powell's views.

One associate said Mr. Powell had used at least one of the conversations to say Mr. Bolton had worked "fairly well" with Mr. Powell on several issues, including Iran; an effort to intercept shipments of dangerous weapons; and the phase-out of the Antiballistic Treaty with Russia and the phase-in of an alternative known as the Moscow Treaty.

But the associate said Mr. Powell had made clear that Mr. Bolton "had problems" with Mr. Westermann and others who disagreed with him.

"In short, he gave the senator a balanced appraisal of Bolton," Mr. Powell's associate said of one call with Mr. Chafee.

On Thursday, committee staff members were working to strike an agreement between Democrats and Republicans to seek further information about a number of disputed issues related to Mr. Bolton, including his requests to the National Security Agency for information about American officials mentioned in communications intercepted by the agency.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Bush to Sign Rewrite of Bankruptcy Code

CBS 46 Atlanta - Bush to Sign Rewrite of Bankruptcy Code: "Washington
Bush to Sign Rewrite of Bankruptcy Code
Apr 20, 2005, 10:13 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans weighed down by credit card bills and other financial obligations will have a harder time wiping out their debt under a bankruptcy bill President Bush is poised to sign.

46 FORUM: Your thoughts on this change?

Many debtors will have to work out repayment plans instead of having their obligations erased in bankruptcy court under the law, which will go into effect six months after Bush signs it Wednesday. The legislation is the biggest rewrite of the bankruptcy code in a quarter-century and was pushed for eight years by banks and credit card companies.

The measure would require people with incomes above a certain level to pay some or all of their credit-card charges, medical bills and other obligations under a court-ordered bankruptcy plan.

Those who fought the bill's passage said the change will fall especially hard on low-income working people, single mothers, minorities and the elderly and would remove a safety net for those who have lost their jobs or face crushing medical bills.

The financial services industry argued that bankruptcy frequently is the last refuge of gamblers, impulsive shoppers, divorced or separated fathers avoiding child support, and multimillionaires who buy mansions in states with liberal homestead exemptions to shelter assets from creditors.

The bill got final congressional approval last Thursday, and Bush said he was eager to sign it. 'These commonsense reforms will make the system stronger and better so that more Americans - especially lower-income Americans - have greater access to credit,' he said.

New personal bankruptcy filings edged down from 1,613,097 in the year ending June 30, 2003, to 1,599,986 in the year ending last June 30, breaking an upward trend of recent years.

Between 30,000 and 210,000 people - from 3.5 percent to 20 "

BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi resigns as Italian PM

BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi resigns as Italian PM: "Berlusconi resigns as Italian PM
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has resigned, but says he will soon put together a new coalition.

He told the upper house of parliament that his party had a mandate to lead until 2006 and it would do so.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi asked him to stay on as caretaker prime minister, urging further talks with allies before forming a government.

Mr Berlusconi's centre-right coalition was rocked by poor results in regional elections earlier this month.

Following a 40-minute meeting with the president, Mr Berlusconi told reporters he would move quickly to form a new coalition."

The New York Times > Washington > Senator Jeffords Is Expected to Retire

The New York Times > Washington > ril 20, 2005
Senator Jeffords Is Expected to Retire

WASHINGTON, April 20 - Senator James M. Jeffords, the independent Vermonter whose defection from the Republican Party in the spring of 2001 gave control of the Senate to the Democrats for 18 months, has reportedly decided not to seek re-election next year.

Mr. Jeffords planned to make an announcement this afternoon in Burlington, Vt., The Associated Press reported.

If Mr. Jeffords retires at the end of his third term, intriguing political possibilities would arise. It would not be surprising, for instance, if Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor whose presidential campaign soared early and flamed out almost as suddenly, decided to try for Mr. Jeffords's seat. Mr. Dean is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The Republicans have 55 seats in the Senate, to 44 for the Democrats. Then there is Mr. Jeffords, who caucuses with the Democrats and whose departure from the Republican fold triggered an upheaval in May 2001.

Before his defection, Republicans and Democrats had 50 seats each, but Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote gave Republicans control of the chamber. Then Mr. Jeffords made his momentous shift on May 24, 2001, giving Democrats their razor-thin margin that lasted until the 2002 elections.

"Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party," Mr. Jeffords said in 2001. "I understand that many people are more conservative than I am, and they form the Republican Party. Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me and for me to deal with them."

Mr. Jeffords is described in the Almanac of American Politics as one of President Bill Clinton's favorite Republicans. He was the only Republican in Congress who supported Mr. Clinton's ambitious and ultimately futile health-care plan. He left the Republican Party after refusing to go along with all of President Bush's tax cuts in 2001.

Mr. Jeffords, who will turn 71 on May 11, has had health problems, The A.P. reported today. He served in the Vermont State Senate from 1966 to 1968, was state attorney general from 1968 to 1972, then served in the United States House of Representatives from 1974 to 1988, before winning his Senate seat.

It is entirely in character for Mr. Jeffords to make important announcements in Vermont rather than in Washington. When he left the Republican Party four years ago, he made his announcement in his home state. "I wanted to be with my Vermonters," he said. "I want to go home to my people."

The New York Times > Washington > 2 Reporters Suffer Another Court Setback

The New York Times > Washington > 22 Reporters Suffer Another Court Setback

Two reporters facing up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify about their sources lost another round in the courts yesterday. The reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, now have only one appeal left, to the United States Supreme Court.

The decision, by the full federal appeals court in Washington, declined to reconsider a unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the court.

The earlier decision, in February, required the reporters to testify about conversations they may have had with government officials concerning Valerie Plame, an undercover C.I.A. agent whose identity was first disclosed by Robert Novak, the syndicated columnist.

Seven judges participated in yesterday's decision, which noted only that a majority of the court's active judges had not voted in favor of a rehearing. Two active judges did not participate, for unexplained reasons. One judge, David S. Tatel, published an explanatory concurrence. None of the judges noted a dissent.

Speaking to the Newspaper Association of America in San Francisco yesterday, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, emphasized the importance of allowing reporters to keep their promises to confidential sources.

"This is not a New York Times or a Time magazine issue," Mr. Sulzberger said. "What's at stake here is journalism at the grass-roots level."

The two reporters have remained free while they pursue their cases in the appeals court. Under the usual procedural rules, they could face jail as soon as a week from now, when the appeals court will issue its mandate and return jurisdiction in the case to the trial court.

But legal experts say the reporters may try to make a deal with the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, or ask one of the courts involved to issue a stay. In exchange for their continued freedom, the reporters may agree to move quickly enough for the Supreme Court to be able to decide whether to hear the case before its summer recess.

Mr. Fitzgerald has consistently urged the courts to take quick action, adding in a recent filing that his investigation into the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity is all but complete. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald declined to comment yesterday.

Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in Washington, ordered the reporters jailed in October unless they agreed to testify. Judge Hogan said a 1972 decision of the Supreme Court, Branzburg v. Hayes, provided reporters with no First Amendment protection when grand juries sought their sources.

In a speech in Montana, Judge Hogan suggested last week that he expected the Supreme Court to hear the case, according to reports in the local newspapers there.

In his concurrence, Judge Tatel, who also participated in the February decision, suggested yesterday that the reporters' arguments were best addressed to the Supreme Court.

"Only the Supreme Court can limit or distinguish Branzburg," Judge Tatel wrote.

But Judge Tatel conceded that decisions of his own court's interpreting Branzburg were "somewhat conflicted." Other federal appeals courts, too, have read Branzburg in various ways, and the Supreme Court often accepts cases to resolve conflicts among federal appeals courts.

"The courts are all over the lot," said Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a Los Angeles lawyer who filed a brief supporting the reporters on behalf of 25 news organizations. "This case has nationwide implications, and given what's at stake here for the public - not just the journalists - it seems like an ideal case for the court to take."

Judge Tatel also defended much of the secrecy attached to the case, including his decision to redact eight pages that were part of his concurrence in February, which presumably set out grand jury evidence supporting the need for the reporters' testimony. Lawyers involved in the case have speculated that the pages described Mr. Novak's mysterious role in the matter, and they have argued that the secrecy that has permeated the case violated the reporters' due process rights.

Judge Tatel disagreed.

"Telling one grand jury witness what another has said," he wrote, "not only risks tainting the later testimony (not to mention enabling perjury or collusion), but may also embarrass or even endanger witnesses, as well as tarnish the reputations of suspects whom the grand jury ultimately declines to indict."

Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting for this article.

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > Chinese Official Orders End to Anti-Japanese Demonstrations

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > Chinese Official Orders End to Anti-Japanese Demonstrations: April 20, 2005
Chinese Official Orders End to Anti-Japanese Demonstrations

BEIJING, April 19 - China's foreign minister called Tuesday for an end to anti-Japanese protests, the first signal that the leadership may no longer welcome the sometimes violent demonstrations that have underpinned a new and more confrontational approach to Japan.

The minister, Li Zhaoxing, told a meeting of the Communist Party's propaganda department attended by 3,500 people that government, military and party officials, as well as "the masses," should stay off the streets, state media reported.

"Cadres and the masses must believe in the party and the government's ability to properly handle all issues linked to Sino-Japanese relations," Mr. Li was quoted as saying. "Calmly, rationally and legally express your own views. Do not attend marches that have not been approved. Do not do anything that might upset social stability."

Mr. Li's comments, carried on national television, amounted to the first direct call by a top official to wind down the protests by tens of thousands of urban residents. The demonstrations have continued on three successive weekends, becoming China's most sustained street protests since the pro-democracy uprising of 1989.

Until now, the protests have enjoyed at least tacit approval from the central government. Although none of the major marches in Beijing, Shanghai and several other cities received formal permits, the police had not made consistent efforts to prevent them or to arrest people responsible for vandalizing Japanese diplomatic missions or private property in the marches.

In recent public appearances, Mr. Li refrained from criticizing protesters and accused Japan of instigating the protests by provoking China on issues including territorial disputes, distorted history textbooks and visits to Tokyo's war shrine.

Mr. Li reiterated that Japan must take responsibility for the unrest because it has continued to whitewash the history of its World War II-era occupation of China. He rejected calls by the Japanese government for apologies or compensation for damaged Japanese property.

But his appeal to rein in the protests most likely reflects the views of top leaders, who may have concluded that little is to be gained from further protests and that social stability is at some risk if they continue unchecked.

"Cadres must resolutely implement the major policies of the central party leadership and resolutely safeguard overall political stability and unity," he said.

The suggestion that officials must "resolutely implement" leadership decisions hints at a possible divergence of opinions over how to manage the protests. In Communist history, unclear or contradictory orders from the top have often provided an opening for public protests and made the police reluctant to exert their authority.

It is unclear if elements in the leadership structure had different views this time, but Mr. Li implied that lower level officials would be held responsible for carrying out the new mandate.

The big test of the order will come next week. Urban residents have been sending text and e-mail messages to one another calling for major marches on May 1, China's traditional Labor Day, and on May 4.

May 4 is significant in Chinese history because it is the anniversary of the first major student-led nationalist uprising, in 1919. Popular outrage over the Versailles Treaty, which gave German-controlled territory in China to Japan after World War I, sparked that protest.

Authorities generally step up surveillance and harassment of critics of the government on such anniversaries to guard against unrest.

Japan Steps Up Criticism of China

The New York Times

TOKYO, April 19 - With China refusing to apologize for anti-Japanese protests, Japan's leadership stepped up criticism of Beijing on Tuesday, even as Japan's population seemed to back a more cautious stance.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dismissed China's complaints that his visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals are enshrined, were an insult to the Chinese and an obstacle to better relations. "Each country has its own history, tradition and different views," he said.

Hard-liners in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have drowned out isolated criticism of Mr. Koizumi. "People are expected to offer an apology and compensation if they damage other people's property," said Shoichi Nakagawa, the minister of economy, trade and industry.

The New York Times > International > International Special > Benedict XVI, 78, Was John Paul II's Strict Defender of the Faith

The New York Times > International > International Special > Benedict XVI, 78, Was John Paul II's Strict Defender of the Faith:April 20, 2005
Benedict XVI, 78, Was John Paul II's Strict Defender of the Faith

VATICAN CITY, April 19 - Roman Catholic cardinals reached to the church's conservative wing on Tuesday and chose as the 265th pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a seasoned and hard-line German theologian who served as John Paul II's defender of the faith.

At 5:50 p.m. in Rome, wispy white smoke puffed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel where the cardinals were meeting, signaling that the new pope had been chosen, only a day after the secret conclave began. His name was not announced until nearly an hour later, after the great bell at St. Peter's tolled, and the scarlet curtain over the basilica's central balcony parted and a cardinal stepped out to announce in Latin, "Habemus papam!"

"Dear brothers and sisters," Cardinal Ratzinger, 78, said, speaking Italian in a clear voice, spreading his arms wide over the crowd from the balcony. "After the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard." He announced his name as Benedict XVI.

The unusually brief conclave seemed to suggest that Cardinal Ratzinger was a popular choice inside the college of 115 cardinals who elected him as a man who shared - if at times went beyond - John Paul's conservative theology and seemed ready to take over the job after serving beside him for more than two decades.

It was not clear, however, how popular a choice he was on St. Peter's Square. The applause for the new pope, while genuine and sustained among many, tapered off decisively in large pockets, which some assembled there said reflected their reservations about his doctrinal rigidity and whether, under Benedict XVI, an already polarized church will now find less to bind it together.

"I kind of do think he will try to unite Catholics," said Linda Nguyen, 20, an American student studying in Rome who had wrapped six rosaries around her hands. "But he might scare people away."

Vincenzo Jammace, a teacher from Rome, stood up on a plastic chair below the balcony and intoned, "This is the gravest error!"

Pope Benedict's well-known stands include the assertion that Catholicism is "true" and other religions are "deficient"; that the modern, secular world, especially in Europe, is spiritually weak; and that Catholicism is in competition with Islam. He has also strongly opposed homosexuality, women as priests and stem cell research.

His many supporters said they believed that the rule of Benedict XVI - a scholar who reportedly speaks 10 languages, including excellent English - would be clear and uncompromising about what it means to be a Roman Catholic.

"It would be more popular to be more liberal, but it's not the best way for the church," said Martin Sturm, 20, a student from Germany. "The church must tell the truth, even if it is not what the people want to hear. And he will tell the truth."

While Pope Benedict's views are upsetting to many Catholics in Europe and among liberal Americans, they are likely to find a receptive audience among the young and conservative Catholics whom John Paul II energized. His conservatism on moral issues may also play well in developing countries, where the church is growing rapidly, but where issues of poverty and social justice are also important. It is unclear how much Cardinal Ratzinger, a man with limited pastoral experience, and that spent in rich Europe, will speak to those concerns.

Born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, in Bavaria, he was the son of a police officer. He was ordained in 1951, at age 24. He began his career as a liberal academic and theological adviser to at the Second Vatican Council, supporting many efforts to make the church more open.

But he moved theologically and politically to the right. Pope Paul VI appointed him bishop of Munich in 1977 and appointed him cardinal in just three months. Taking the chief doctrinal job in 1981, he moved with vigor to squash liberation theology in Latin America, cracked down on liberal theologians and in 2000 wrote the contentious Vatican document "Dominus Jesus," asserting the truth of the Catholic belief over others.

Despite views his opponents consider harsh, he is said to be shy and charming in private, a deeply spiritual and meditative man who lives simply. "He's very delicate, refined, respectful," Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, a retired top Vatican official who had worked closely with Cardinal Ratzinger, said in an interview on Tuesday night. "He's very approachable. He's open to everyone."

With their choice, cardinals from 52 countries definitively answered several questions about the direction of the Roman Catholic Church at the start of its third millennium.

They did not reach outside Europe, perhaps to Latin America, as many Vatican watchers expected, to reflect the growth of the church there and in Asia and Africa, prompting some disappointed reactions from Latin America on Tuesday. They did not choose a candidate with long experience as a pastor, but an academic and Vatican insider. They did not return the job to Italy, which had held the papacy for 455 years before a Pole, Karol Wojtyla, was elected John Paul II in 1978.

They also did not chose a man as young as John Paul II, who was only 58 when elected. Cardinal Ratzinger turned 78 last Saturday, the oldest pope chosen since Clement XII in 1730. This has led to some speculation that cardinals chose him as a trusted, transitional figure.

John Paul was virtually unknown when he was selected, but Cardinal Ratzinger's record is long and articulate in a prolific academic career, followed by a contentious tenure as John Paul's doctrinal watchdog. Most cardinals know him well from visits to Rome, and he won admiration among many colleagues for his crucial role in administering the church in the last stages of John Paul's illness.

In many ways, the cardinals picked John Paul's theological twin but his opposite in presence and personality. Where John Paul was charismatic and tended to soften his rigid stands with human warmth, Cardinal Ratzinger is bland in public and pulls few punches about his beliefs.

President Bush on Tuesday recalled the cardinal's homily at John Paul's funeral, saying, "His words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions." Speaking in Washington, he called Benedict a "man of great wisdom and knowledge."

Only on Monday, as the cardinals attended a Mass before locking themselves inside the Sistine Chapel to select a new pope, Cardinal Ratzinger took a moment as dean of the college of cardinals and celebrant of the Mass to repeat his fears about threats to the faith. In retrospect, some observers said, he was laying out what may be the focus of his papacy.

"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as fundamentalism," he said at the Mass. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."

Cardinal Ratzinger has often criticized religious relativism, the belief - mistaken, he says - that all beliefs are equally true.

"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires," he added.

In his brief, first address as Benedict XVI on Tuesday from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he did not speak of theology or of a specific direction for the church.

"I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments," he said. "And above all, I entrust myself to your prayers."

Benedict XVI had dinner on Tuesday night with the other cardinals at the Santa Marta residence, built by John Paul II to provide more comfortable lodgings for cardinals while locked down in the conclave, said Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the chief Vatican spokesman.

He is to be installed in a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday.

The conclave that selected him on the fourth ballot was among the shortest of the last century - the shortest, the election of Pius XII in 1939, took only three - and the speed caught many experts by surprise. Cardinal Ratzinger has been a divisive figure within the church, and reports before the conclave spoke almost unanimously about blocs of more progressive cardinals lining up against him.

In theory, cardinals are not allowed to discuss the inner workings of the conclave, but in reality, details seep out later. Several cardinals are expected to give interviews or news conferences on Wednesday, and may provide some limited glimpses in the dynamic that picked Cardinal Ratzinger - and with such speed.

But already, there was at least one voice of careful reservation. Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium, one of the most liberal cardinals, who has been critical of Cardinal Ratzinger, skipped the dinner specifically to hold a news conference.

He would not disclose his own vote and did not criticize Cardinal Ratzinger directly. But he was not effusive in his praise, either, saying that he had "a certain hope" based on the choice of the name Benedict. Benedict XV, who appealed for peace during World War I, "was a man of peace and reconciliation," Cardinal Danneels said.

But, he said, "We have to see what's in a name."

He also warned that being the spiritual leader of one billion Roman Catholics was different from parsing out theological matters.

"When you are a pope, you have to be the pastor of every one and everything which happens in the church," he said. "You are not specialized."

But Cardinal Edward M. Egan, archbishop of New York, said Tuesday that the process involved a "certain amount of tension and concern" but that the conclave made the right choice.

"I believe that the Lord has something to do with it," Cardinal Egan said at a news conference here. "This man is going to do a splendid job."

Asked if Cardinal Ratzinger would adopt a harsher tone as pope, Cardinal Egan asked a reporter: "Why don't you and I get together in one year and we'll talk about it. I have every hope that the tone is going to be the one of Jesus Christ."

Elisabetta Povoledo of The International Herald Tribune and Jason Horowitz contributed reporting for this article.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The New York Times > International > International Special > In St. Peter's Square, Optimism and Concern

The New York Times > International > International Special > In St. Peter's Square, Optimism and Concern:

Published: April 19, 2005

VATICAN CITY, April 19 - When the bells of St. Peter's rang out the news that a pope had been chosen, just after 6 tonight, thousands of people in Rome dropped what they were doing and ran to the Vatican, to see the new pontiff emerge on the balcony.

"The whole building emptied and we just moved as fast as we could, risking a heart attack," Giovanni Simeone, a 28-year-old architect, said still panting.

Patrizia Maglie, his co-worker, added, "The only thing that makes Romans run this way is a new pope - or a soccer match."

The tens of thousands gathered in anticipation, shouted "Brava, Brava" when Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez announced, "We have a new pope."

But the reaction was decidedly mixed when Cardinal Ratzinger's name was announced. Some slapped and shouted jubilantly. But an equal number stood by silently and listened. A small number of people wandered out of the square as he spoke.

Those who supported the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, saw him as a force of continuity with his wildly popular predecessor, John Paul II - even if they were not terribly enamored or familiar with the new pope himself.

"I happy because I respect the ideas and ideals of the previous pope and I think he'll continue in just like the old one," said Alberto Napoleone, 34, of Rome.

Indeed the greatest cheers in the new pope's short speech came when he mentioned John Paul II's name, to a chorus of enthusiastic whoops and cheers. The reception to Benedict XVI was much more measured, punctuated by polite applause.

But some well-known conservatives in the crowd were thrilled with a choice that they saw as bringing the church back to its core moral values, including its condemnation of homosexuality and birth control for women.

"Before we felt like orphans, but now again we have someone we can look to," said Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian minister whose appointment to the European Union Cabinet was rejected earlier this year, because of his conservative views on abortion and women's rights.

Calling the new pope "the greatest living theologian and one of the greatest intellectuals of central Europe," Mr. Buttiglione said the former Cardinal Ratzinger had been the "point of reference" in his own intellectual development.

But many in the crowd were openly and greatly distressed by the choice of the new pope - widely regarded as an extreme conservative on a wide variety of social issues. This included many Catholics who said he would take the church in the wrong direction.

"I am very, very upset because I was hoping for a more open pope, one who was more open to the problems of the world," said Paolo Tasselli, a retired bank worker and a practicing Catholic, who said he had hoped the church would give more rights to women and be more involved in social issues.

He said he had loved Pope John Paul II, who he felt was conservative on some issues but "open to the world" in many other ways. He said of the new pope, "I don't think this new one can do that."

The new pope and the old were closely allied, working together to maintain conservative church policies on issues like abortion, birth control and the ordination or women. But John Paul II nonetheless managed to charm more liberal Catholics with his charisma and world travels.

One theologian, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called Cardinal Ratzinger "John Paul II, without the imagination."

Many others seemed simply perplexed with a choice they saw as moving the church backward. John Paul II, they said, seemed inclined to move the church into the real world. Benedict XVI, they felt, would return to a focus on narrow dogma and doctrine.

"In the German context, he's perceived of as very conservative and has struggled with the German bishops and German Catholics a lot," said Florian Mussgnug, a German who is teaching at a university here.

The New York Times > International > International Special > Cardinals Continue Conclave After 2nd Inconclusive Ballot

The New York Times > International > International Special > April 19, 2005
Cardinals Continue Conclave After 2nd Inconclusive Ballot

ROME, April 19 - Black smoke billowed from a chimney over the Sistine Chapel today, signaling that the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church electing the 265th pope took another inconclusive vote on the morning of the second day of their tradition laden conclave.

The smoke began billowing from the chimney over the chapel just before noon and went on for a quarter hour, as a large crowed gathered below in St. Peter's Square. The chimney was shown on giant screens in the square too.

The cardinals will hold another voting session in the afternoon.

Many observers had trouble figuring out if the smoke was truly black, the signal for an inconclusive vote. But Vatican Radio said it was black and the giant bell above St. Peter's did not ring, as it is to at the election of John Paul II's successor.

The conclave began meeting Monday, late in the afternoon, after a public mass for all the voting cardinals inside St. Peter's Church.

If the afternoon session today also fails to produce a pope, the conclave will resume Wednesday morning.

The cardinals are to hold two ballots each morning and two each afternoon. After the voting sessions, the ballots and any notes are burned.

On Monday, several minutes after 8 p.m., a wisp of smoke wafted from a smokestack, and many thought it was white, meaning a pope had been elected with lightning speed. A roar erupted and people surged forward, shouting, "It's white! It's white!" But as the smoke thickened, it became obvious that it was black.

On Monday, tens of thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square, their necks craned toward the chapel's roof and binoculars trained on the chimney. The 115 cardinals had retreated behind the chapel's heavy wooden doors in the afternoon, deliberating under Michelangelo's frescoes."What a shame," said Erica Barocco, 26, of Rome when she finally figured out the color. "I would have preferred it to be white because I want to see a new pope."

On Monday also, huge television screens in the square made the color clear, along with silence from the bells of St. Peter's Basilica. Vatican officials have said they will ring the bells of St. Peter's Basilica simultaneously with white smoke to confirm that a pope had indeed been chosen, to avoid confusion of the sort that took place on Monday and that has occurred in the past.

Scores of priests in black and nuns in brown and blue robes were in the square for the first such spectacle since 1978, when John Paul II was elected. There was also a polyglot mix of tourists and parents with children in their arms, hoping to ingrain a lifelong memory. Already, a crimson curtain hung on the central balcony of the basilica facing St. Peter's for the new pope's traditional first appearance in public.

An election on the first ballot was highly unlikely; it is extremely difficult for a candidate to receive the needed two-thirds majority so soon. The first vote has traditionally been a time to gauge the strength of contenders and cast ballots for friends.

The cardinals spentthe night sequestered in the St. Marta residence behind Vatican walls.

The drama in the square followed a day of pageantry and a pointed theological discourse by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the dean of the college of cardinals and John Paul's doctrinal watchdog.

Considered a possible pope but more likely a kingmaker for another, Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated a Mass before the conclave and in his homily delivered an uncompromising warning against any deviation from traditional Catholic teaching.

"A dictatorship of relativism is being built that recognizes nothing as definite," the cardinal said, "and which leaves as the ultimate measure only one's ego and desires."

For 25 years Cardinal Ratzinger served as John Paul's theological right hand as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In his writings and public statements, he has often sought to uphold the primacy of Catholicism. "Relativism," he has said, implies wrongly that other faiths are equally valid.

In his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger said Christians were being tossed on the waves of Marxism, liberalism and even "libertinism," of radical individualism, atheism and vague mysticism. He also deplored the formation of "sects," a term church leaders often use to refer to Protestant evangelical movements.

"Having a clear faith, according to the credo of the church, is often labeled as fundamentalism," he said. "Yet relativism, that is, letting oneself be carried here and there by any wind of doctrine, appears as the sole attitude good enough for modern times."

Many of the cardinals watched intently as Cardinal Ratzinger spoke. Several others appeared to doze.

While the cardinal has been saying similar things for decades, hearing them expressed just before the conclave, and so sharply at that, was unexpected. But there were different interpretations of his intent. At John Paul's funeral, the cardinal showed his pastoral side, said John-Peter Pham, a former Vatican diplomat and author of a book about papal succession. At the Mass on Monday, Mr. Pham said, Cardinal Ratzinger gave "evidence that he also has, if you will, the 'vision thing,' that he has definite ideas of where the natural progression of John Paul's theological legacy is."

"Whether that's a campaign statement or requirement of what the next guy must have - that remains to be seen," he added.

The message is that John Paul's goals must be maintained, he said. "Either as a candidate or a grand elector, he's definitely in a very strong position, and he wouldn't have made this statement if he was standing alone," Mr. Pham said.

It was very likely that most cardinals were well familiar with Cardinal Ratzinger's thinking, and his belief that the church's first priority should be to shore up the doctrinal walls. "It's very honest," said the Rev. Gerald O'Collins, a Jesuit theologian at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. "That's what he thinks. Some of the cardinals would not agree with his summation. Other things like war and peace and hunger are high on the agenda of other cardinals."

The Rev. Raymond J. de Souza, chaplain at Newman House at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said Cardinal Ratzinger's homily was an "exhortation" to keep in mind that the primary responsibility of a pope is to preserve the faith passed on from the apostles and not to dilute or experiment with it.

"If the faith is strong, then the church can take on these other issues," said Father de Souza, who writes a syndicated column.

Prof. Hans Küng, a German theologian at the University of Tübingen who has quarreled with Cardinal Ratzinger and been censured by the Vatican, said he heard similar views many years ago from him. "His ideology is a medieval, anti-Reformation, anti-modern paradigm of the church and the papacy," he said.

Before voting, the cardinals began the conclave with a solemn procession into the Sistine Chapel. They walked slowly in pairs as a choir chanted the Litany of the Saints, passing between Swiss guards in full regalia.

After taking their seats behind long tables, they heard Cardinal Ratzinger read them an oath of secrecy, obedience to the conclave rules and a commitment to serve if elected pope. Their birettas, the red hats that symbolize their authority, sat on the tables in front of them.

Then, they lined up and one by one put a hand on the Gospel and swore to obey. The entire pageant was televised live, a first in conclave history and in keeping with the tradition of John Paul II, who used television throughout his papacy to promote the faith. Even in death, his image was broadcast as he lay in state inside St. Peter's Basilica.

"Extra omnes!" declared Archbishop Piero Marini, the master of papal liturgical ceremonies - "Everyone out!" He and a theologian chosen to deliver an inspirational message remained. The rules called for them to leave after the address. Then the door was locked.

The mourning for the pope seemed fully lifted Monday, with an air of expectation in St. Peter's Square. In contrast to the solemnity of the funeral rites, the Mass on Monday was open to tourists, whose babies cried and whose cameras flashed at this latest chapter in two millenniums of Christian history.

After the Mass, the congregation of priests, nuns, pilgrims and a scattering of tourists applauded as the cardinals walked in procession out of the basilica, the applause rising, it seemed, as favored papal candidates passed. But the loudest applause was for Cardinal Ratzinger as he brought up the end of the procession - applause so enthusiastic that he gave a big smile to recognize it.

Laurie Goodstein and Jason Horowitz contributed reporting for this article.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Steps at Reactor in North Korea Worry the U.S.

The New York Times > Washington > Steps at Reactor in North Korea Worry the U.S.: "April 18, 2005
Steps at Reactor in North Korea Worry the U.S.

WASHINGTON, April 17 - The suspected shutdown of a reactor at North Korea's main nuclear weapons complex has raised concern at the White House that the country could be preparing to make good on its recent threat to harvest a new load of nuclear fuel, potentially increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal.

While there is no way to know with any certainty why the reactor might have been shut down, it has been North Korea's main means of obtaining plutonium for weapons. The Central Intelligence Agency has told Congress it estimates that in the last two years the country turned a stockpile of spent fuel from the same reactor into enough bomb-grade material for more than six nuclear weapons.

The White House's concern over the past week arises from two developments. An American scholar with unusual access to North Korea's leaders, Selig S. Harrison, a longtime specialist on North Korea at the Center for International Policy in Washington, said after visiting the country two weeks ago that he was told by a very senior North Korean that there were plans 'to unload the reactor to create a situation' to force President Bush to negotiate on terms more favorable to North Korea.

That focused new attention on spy satellite photographs of the reactor, which has been watched intensively in recent months. While American officials would not discuss what the spy satellites had seen, commercial satellite photographs of the plant, taken by DigitalGlobe and interpreted by the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, show that the plant was apparently shut down or shifted to a very low power level at least 10 days ago, around the time of Mr. Harrison's visit.

Mr. Harrison's message and the satellite photographs present a mystery that has underscor"

The New York Times > International > International Special > In Vast Secrecy, Conclave of Cardinals Is Set to Elect Pope

The New York Times > International > International Special > In Vast Secrecy, Conclave of Cardinals Is Set to Elect Pope: "April 18, 2005
In Vast Secrecy, Conclave of Cardinals Is Set to Elect Pope

ROME, April 17 - Bathed in mystery and, many believe, the Holy Spirit, the conclave to elect a new pope that opens Monday marries the highest Roman Catholic Church solemnity with one of history's longest-lived electoral experiences.

The event - which has not occurred in more than 26 years but dates back nearly a millennium - is a unique mix of pageantry and practicality, a regal balloting exercise that even a big city ward heeler might recognize.

In theory, the 115 voting cardinals are all candidates. But tradition and human nature work together to create a rough winnowing process.

'They try to be inspired by the will of God in prayer,' said Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, a conclave historian who works in the Vatican library. 'In the end, it's the cardinals who say who will be the next pope.'

The first vote - which could occur as early as Monday night - is likely to be showdown time, Vatican analysts said.

Historically, before being sequestered, the cardinals have already coalesced around several favorites, thanks to formal daily meetings and informal encounters in the days after the pope's death. The strength of support becomes clear in that first vote."

CBS 46 Atlanta - Sheriff's security task force draws criticism

CBS 46 Atlanta - Sheriff's security task force draws criticism: Sheriff's security task force draws criticism
Apr 17, 2005, 9:52 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman has drawn criticism for his courthouse security task force, as critics have questioned his selection of panel members and the way it is organized.

The sheriff's 22-member group is supposed to start meeting in secret this week, but some members didn't know when or where. Freeman created the task force to assess shortcomings in security at the courthouse, where Brian Nichols is accused of taking a deputy's gun and killing Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau and deputy Sargeant Hoyt Teasley before escaping on March Eleventh.

Nichols also is accused of killing U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent David Wilhelm before being caputred in Gwinnett County the next day. Only eight members of the panel are current or former law enforcement professionals.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Nike Golf sees dollar signs in the ball that Woods used in his magical Masters chip-in

Nike Golf sees dollar signs in the ball that Woods used in his magical Masters chip-in: "Nike sees dollar signs in the ball Woods used in his Masters chip-in
Nike sees dollar signs in the ball Woods used in his Masters chip-in
Marketing experts believe that Tiger Woods' shot reinforced Nike's message that it is a leading performance golf brand.

04.13.2005 08:44 pm (EST)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) -- It was a Masters moment that will forever linger in memory: Tiger Woods' chip shot crawling to the lip of the cup, the ball teetering for what seemed like an eternity, its tiny swoosh slowly rolling up into view before dropping in.

For Woods, it was a triumph. For Nike, it was a marketing coup -- and a lucky one.

Some 2,750 miles away from the 16th hole at Augusta National, Nike Golf's director of marketing Chris Mike was scrambling for the phone. Nike, he suggested to a colleague, had the makings of its new ad campaign.

Through its nearly decade-long alliance with Woods, Nike has sought to gain ground in the golf equipment and apparel market. The company currently has a 9 percent slice of the golf ball market that's dominated by Titleist and Callaway Golf. - MLB - Report: Yankees closer to deal for new stadium - MLB - Report: Yankees closer to deal for new stadium: "Report: An announcement could come by May 1
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are close to reaching an agreement with city and state governments to build a new stadium, the Daily News reported Saturday.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper reported that lawyers from the city, state and team are completing a "memorandum of understanding" and that an announcement is expected around May 1.

While government and team officials did not comment directly about plans or the pending agreement, the newspaper said they did confirm that they are in the final stages.

"We're working very closely with the city and the state and trying to finalize our current plan," Yankees president Randy Levine told the Daily News. "We expect to announce it in the near future, and we hope to break ground in 2006 and be ready to play in 2009."

The new stadium will be built just north of the existing facility in the Bronx and is designed to seat 50,800. That's smaller than the current capacity of 57,478, but the new ballpark will have more luxury suites.

The newspaper, citing officials familiar with the plans, reported that the new stadium will be comprised of two separate structures: an exterior wall, designed to replicate the original Yankee Stadium built in 1923, and the interior stadium itself.

The stadium construction will cost approximately $800 million and will be fully paid for by the team. The city and state will spend $300 million to build a new commuter rail station, improve parking, and create parkland along the nearby waterfront.

The new stadium will feature copper lattice work around its roof, much like the 1923 stadium. The new facility also will have expanded retail and concession areas.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Governor OK's Sandy Springs Plan

CBS 46 Atlanta - Governor OK's Sandy Springs Plan: "ATLANTA (AP) ATLANTA (AP) -- Governor Perdue gave his approval today to legislation that will allow residents of Sandy Springs to decide in a referendum in June whether they wish to form their own city.

The law now must be approved by the US Department of Justice to assure proposed election districts for the new government do not discriminate against minorities. But if it clears that hurdle and wins voter approval, it would put an end to three decades of political controversy in the northern end of Fulton County.

Many activists in the community of about 86-thousand contend their needs have been ignored by Fulton County and the tax money they contribute to the county has been spent elsewhere.

Opponents of the legislation have warned that allowing the community to incorporate could cost the state's biggest county 50 million dollars in tax revenue and lead to a tax increase.

The issue has been simmering in the Legislature for years but Atlanta lawmakers were able to block it when Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature. Republicans controlled both chambers this year, and the measure was a top priority to key leaders.

After signing the bill, the governor said, "At the heart of our nation's founding is the principle of self-government. I'm pleased that the residents of Sandy Springs will determine the future of their community by their own votes."

Khaleej Times Online > Taiwan opposition to make ice-breaking trip to China

Khaleej Times Online: "Taiwan opposition to make ice-breaking trip to China
15 April 2005

TAIPEI - Taiwan’s main opposition Nationalist Party, or KMT, will send its chairman to China to discuss ending the five-decade hostility across the Taiwan Strait, the party announced on Friday.

“Our Secretary-General Lien Feng-cheng will visit Beijing next week to discuss Lien’s itinerary with the Chinese side,” KMT Spokesman Chang Jung-kong told reporters.

“Lien will make the visit under the principle of dignity, equality and Taiwan’s peace. He will visit Beijing, Nanjing and Xian,” he said.

Party officials already met with Chinese envoys in Hong Kong early this week to reach consensus on Lien’s trip. The United Daily News (UDN) said Friday that Chinese President Hu Jintao has invited Lien to visit China from April 30-May 7.

Lien has said that he hopes to sign a mid-term peace pact with China, so Taiwan and China can co-exist peacefully for 20 or 50 years and discuss unification when conditions are ripe. Late last month the KMT’s vice chairman Chiang Pin-kung led a historic 34-strong delegation to China for five-day visit. During the trip, Chiang reached consensus from Chinese officials on ways to improve cross-strait ties, including having the two sides hold talks on operating cross-strait cargo charter flights, the export of Taiwanese farm products to China and the protection of Taiwanese investment on the mainland.

The resumption of China-KMT contacts could open an alternative channel for communication between Taipei and Beijing as China is shunning dialogue with the Taiwan government controlled by President Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Since Chen became president in 2000, he has been seeking international recognition of Taiwan as an independent country. China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and has warned Chen that his separatist moves could bring about disaster.

On March 14, the Chinese parliament passed an “anti-secession law” authorizing the use of ”non-peaceful means” to prevent Taiwan from seeking independence.

Currently only 25 mostly-small nations have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China, while more than 160 countries recognize China and regard Taiwan as a Chinese province.

The KMT (Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party) lost its five-decade grip on power in Taiwan in 2000, but hopes to re-gain power in the 2008 presidential election.

CBS 46 Atlanta - More controversy in Cobb plan to buy student laptops

CBS 46 Atlanta - More controversy in Cobb plan to buy student laptops: Marietta
More controversy in Cobb plan to buy student laptops
Apr 16, 2005, 10:38 PM

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) -- A much-debated plan by Cobb County educators to spend more than 100 (m)million dollars on student laptops ran into more controversy when a local newspaper revealed that a study on the proposal is being funded by Apple Computer.

The county school board voted last Wednesday to order an evaluation study by the University of Georgia to decide whether the county should spend 100-point-eight million dollars to give laptop computers to every high school student in the suburban county.

Cobb Superintendent Joe Redden pitched the study, but left out one detail: a computer company arranged for U-G-A to conduct the study and not the school district. The Marietta Daily Journal reported the Apple financing in today's editions.

The school board voted four-to-two to start buying laptops in phases. At first, according to the plan, 71 hundred teachers and 87 hundred students at four of Cobb's 14 high schools would get Apple G-four iBooks at an estimated cost of 25 million dollars.

Japan Today - News - Japan issues strong protest to China over anti-Japan rallies - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Japan issues strong protest to China over anti-Japan rallies - Japan's Leading International News Network: Japan issues strong protest to China over anti-Japan rallies

Sunday, April 17, 2005 at 06:53 JST
TOKYO — Japan issued a strong protest to Chinese authorities on Saturday over vandalism against Japanese-related premises in eastern China while saying foreign ministerial talks set to take place in Beijing on Sunday will go on as scheduled.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters, "In view of the damage to the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, we have to say that the security is insufficient." (Kyodo News)

Japan Today - News - Vatican intrigue intensifies as conclave looms - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Vatican intrigue intensifies as conclave looms - Japan's Leading International News Network: "Vatican intrigue intensifies as conclave looms

Sunday, April 17, 2005 at 06:38 JST
VATICAN CITY — Roman Catholic cardinals preparing to elect a successor to the late Pope John Paul II held a final round of consultations on Saturday, two days before beginning the ultra-secret conclave where the voting will take place.

The cardinals met formally for the 12th and final time to wrap up debate on the state of the church and characteristics of the man who should take the helm, as well as final preparations for the conclave.

They also attended prayers marking the end of the nine-day period of mourning for the late pope, which began April 8, the day of his funeral.

The late pontiff's papal ring, the Fisherman's Ring, was also smashed according to centuries-old tradition, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

The destruction of the ring, signifying the end of his 26-year papacy, was performed by the cardinal camerlengo, or chamberlain, Spain's Eduardo Martinez Somalo, who is temporarily in charge of the Holy See until a new pope is elected.

Somalo also broke the lead seal used to authenticate papal letters, in accordance with the apostolic constitution, as a prelude to the election. A new one will be made for the next pope.

And Chilean Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez concluded nine days of official Vatican mourning by celebrating the final requiem mass for the pontiff, who died on April 2 at the age of 84.

In his homily, Medina said the late pontiff has justifiably been called "the Great" by some since his death because he was a "faithful and prudent" servant of God and "his heart was the heart of Jesus."

Navarro-Valls said the cardinals never raised the name of any candidate in their meetings this week.

"I confirm that names were never spoken of during the general congregations," held each day to discuss the state of the church and prepare for conclave, he told a press conference.

The "climate of these congregations has been one of great familiarity," he said. "This has been perhaps an expression of the great responsibility that all the cardinals feel at this time. That allowed them to find great consensus on the general themes faced in the discussions."

Speculation in one Italian newspaper was that battle lines were forming between forces loyal to the ultra-conservative German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the more moderate Italian Dionigio Tettamanzi.

Another, however, said the game was far more complicated, with Ratzinger perhaps far weaker than originally thought.

That could mean an outcome similar to the conclave that elected John Paul II in 1978, when two Italian cardinals squared off and ultimately gave way to an outsider.

Marco Politi, writing in La Repubblica, said that if Ratzinger proves too weak, or makes it known he is not a candidate, the focus could shift to 77-year-old Cardinal Angelo Sodano, John Paul II's former number two, and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, 74, the head of the Italian bishops' conference and the late pope's deputy as bishop of Rome.

"That risks a repetition of the situation in 1978, when Italians divided between (cardinals Siri and Benelli), and (Austrian) cardinal Koenig succeeded in pushing forward the candicacy of Karol Woytyla," the future John Paul II.

Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday, was the pope's prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — his theological "enforcer."

He has come from behind in the sweepstakes as a potential new pope, despite his age, uncertain health and a bloc of cardinals, including fellow Germans, who consider him too conservative.

Tettamanzi, the 71-year-old archbishop of Milan, has for most of the past weeks led the pack of "papabili" or shared the lead narrowly with Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan, Nigeria's Francis Arinze and Honduran Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.

Marco Tosatti, senior Vatican-watcher at Italy's La Stampa daily, said that "48 hours away from the conclave, the camps are forming, and a Ratzinger-Tettamanzi faceoff is developing.

"Tomorrow (Sunday) will be the day of major consultations ... that could completely reverse what we have been seeing — a strong group in favour of Cardinal Ratzinger and a group, less solid," around Tettamanzi.

Tosatti, like all commentators, is working from tenuous information, as the cardinals have all sworn themselves to secrecy and pledged not to talk to the press.

Even so, he said there is "talk" of a compromise candidate, Colombia's Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 76.

If the front-runners fall away in early voting, any number of names could crop up.

The cardinals are due Sunday afternoon to move into the Vatican's Santa Marta residence, where they will stay throughout the conclave. (Wire reports)