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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Chinese Oil Giant in Takeover Bid for U.S. Corporation - New York Times

Chinese Oil Giant in Takeover Bid for U.S. Corporation - New York TimesJune 23, 2005
Chinese Oil Giant in Takeover Bid for U.S. Corporation

SHANGHAI, Thursday, June 23 - One of China's largest state-controlled oil companies made a $18.5 billion unsolicited bid Thursday for Unocal, signaling the first big takeover battle by a Chinese company for an American corporation.

The bold bid, by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation ( CNOOC), may be a watershed in Chinese corporate behavior, and it demonstrates the increasing influence on Asia of Wall Street's bare-knuckled takeover tactics.

The offer is also the latest symbol of China's growing economic power and of the soaring ambitions of its corporate giants, particularly when it comes to the energy resources it needs desperately to continue feeding its rapid growth.

CNOOC's bid, which comes two months after Unocal agreed to be sold to Chevron, the American energy giant, for $16.4 billion, is expected to incite a potentially costly bidding war over the California-based Unocal, a large independent oil company. CNOOC said its offer represents a premium of about $1.5 billion over the value of Unocal's deal with Chevron after a $500 million breakup fee.

Moreover, the effort is likely to provoke a fierce debate in Washington about the nation's trade policies with China and the role of the two governments in the growing trend of deal making between companies in the countries.

This week, a consortium of investors led by the Haier Group, one of China's biggest companies, moved to acquire the Maytag Corporation, the American appliance maker, for about $1.3 billion, surpassing a bid from a group of American investors.

Last month, Lenovo, China's largest computer maker, completed its $1.75 billion deal for I.B.M.'s personal computer business, creating the world's third-largest computer maker after Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

After years of attracting billions in foreign investment and virtually turning itself into the world's largest factory floor, China appears to be nurturing the growth of its own corporate giants into beacons of capitalism. China wants to be a player on the world stage, and it is eager to have its own energy resources, its own multinational corporations and its own dazzling corporate names.

And some of China's biggest companies are now on the hunt, trying to snap up global treasures.

"If there's an asset up for sale anywhere in the world, people are looking to China, particularly if there's a manufacturing element involved," said Colin Banfield, who runs the mergers and acquisitions practice at Credit Suisse First Boston in Asia. "And if these two deals go through this year, no one is going to doubt the credibility of the Chinese corporates when it comes to M & A."

The deal making and bidding wars are all the more remarkable because they involve Chinese companies taking on American multinationals in a series of transactions certain to be a boon for Western lawyers and investment bankers, many of whom have been betting hundreds of millions of dollars on China's rise.

Indeed, CNOOC is being advised by an army of bankers from Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan Chase and N M Rothschild & Sons of Britain.

In a response, Unocal said in a statement that its board would evaluate the offer, but that its recommendation of the deal with Chevron "remains in effect."

CNOOC's bid faces an uphill battle, with hurdles that probably rise above those usually confronting a corporate bidder. Already, lawmakers in Washington are questioning whether the Bush administration should intervene to block the bid for Unocal, which was founded in 1890 as the Union Oil Company of California.

Two Republican representatives from California, Richard W. Pombo and Duncan Hunter, wrote a letter last week to President Bush, after speculation concerning the deal arose, urging that the transaction be scrutinized on the grounds of national security.

They wrote: "As the world energy landscape shifts, we believe that it is critical to understand the implications for American interests and most especially, the threat posed by China's governmental pursuit of world energy resources. The United States increasingly needs to view meeting its energy requirements within the context of our foreign policy, national security and economic security agenda."

Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council late Wednesday that the government's review of the deal would be "truly a complex matter," according to Reuters.

In Beijing, Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Tuesday that "this is a corporate issue," according to Bloomberg News. "I can't comment on this individual case," Mr. Liu said, "but I can say we encourage the U.S. to allow normal trade relations to take place without political interference."

TCL, a Chinese company that began by making cassette tapes in 1981, is suddenly the world's biggest television set maker, after its acquisition last July of the television business of Thomson of France, which owned the old RCA brand.

Chinese companies still have a long way to go to become global giants that can compete head-to-head with Toyota, Siemens or General Electric. Most of the China deals are small in value - about $1 billion to $2 billion - when compared with big American or European deals.

Whether CNOOC's bid will succeed on it merits is unclear. It is interested in Unocal, once known for its 76 brand, less for its exploration and production in North America than for its huge reserves in Asia. Twenty-seven percent of Unocal's proven oil reserves and 73 percent of its proven natural gas reserves are in Asia, according to Merrill Lynch.

To succeed, CNOOC will have to persuade Unocal's shareholders to vote against their deal with Chevron. The new deal would then face a shareholder vote.

Even though CNOOC's offer is worth $1.5 billion more than Chevron's, some shareholders could still decide that the regulatory review process and the time required to complete a deal with CNOOC would pose too great a risk, given the size of the offer.

Chevron, which could raise its bid to counter CNOOC, is racing to complete its deal and submit it to a shareholder vote as early as August. The company made no specific comment on the Chinese offer.

CNOOC's all-cash offer values Unocal at $67 a share. Chevron's cash and stock offer values Unocal at $61.26 a share, based on Chevron's closing price on Wednesday of $58.27 a share. Shares of Unocal jumped 2.2 percent, to $64.85, as investors anticipated CNOOC's higher bid.

In CNOOC's letter to Unocal, it went to great lengths to say that its bid was friendly, despite being unsolicited. "This friendly, all-cash proposal is a superior offer for Unocal shareholders," wrote CNOOC's chairman and chief executive, Fu Chengyu.

Trying to assuage concerns of some in Washington, CNOOC pledged to continue Unocal's practice of selling all of the oil and gas produced in the United States back to customers in the United States. The company also said it would retain substantially all of Unocal's employees in the United States.

David Barboza contributed reporting from Shanghai for this article and Andrew Ross Sorkin from New York

Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development - New York Times

Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development - New York Timesune 23, 2005
Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

Connecticut residents involved in the lawsuit expressed dismay and pledged to keep fighting.

''It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country,'' said resident Bill Von Winkle, who said he would refuse to leave his home, even if bulldozers showed up. ''I won't be going anywhere. Not my house. This is definitely not the last word.''

Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Institute for Justice representing the families, added: ''A narrow majority of the court simply got the law wrong today and our Constitution and country will suffer as a result.''

Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

''The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue,'' Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

''It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area,'' he said.

At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for ''public use.''

Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

New London officials countered that the private development plans served a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed the homeowners' property rights, even if the area wasn't blighted.

''We're pleased,'' attorney Edward O'Connell, who represents New London Development Corporation, said in response to the ruling.

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.

''Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,'' O'Connor wrote. ''The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.''

She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 properties were threatened or condemned in recent years, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington public interest law firm representing the New London homeowners.

New London, a town of less than 26,000, once was a center of the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country, with losses of residents and jobs.

The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years.

City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.

New London was backed in its appeal by the National League of Cities, which argued that a city's eminent domain power was critical to spurring urban renewal with development projects such Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Kansas City's Kansas Speedway.

Under the ruling, residents still will be entitled to ''just compensation'' for their homes as provided under the Fifth Amendment. However, Kelo and the other homeowners had refused to move at any price, calling it an unjustified taking of their property.

The case was one of six resolved by justices on Thursday. Still pending at the high court are cases dealing with the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and the liability of Internet file-sharing services for clients' illegal swapping of copyrighted songs and movies. The Supreme Court next meets on Monday.

The case is Kelo et al v. City of New London, 04-108.

Pressure might be Sorenstam's biggest foe in Grand Slam quest

Pressure might be Sorenstam's biggest foe in Grand Slam questPeerless Pressure
The field for the U.S. Women's Open, which begins Thursday in Colorado, is as strong as any in women's golf. Yet even Annika Sorenstam admits that her toughest opponent this week is the pressure she put on herself to win the third leg of the Grand Slam.

If anyone can stop Annika Sorenstam this week, it might be her practice partner Lorena Ochoa. (Photo: AP)

In the News

Senior star Jacobsen and newly minted pro Moore share the Barclays Classic spotlight

Opening hole at Cherry Hills is forever defined by one massive drive by the King

Defending champ Mallon has no problem with her low profile at the Women's Open

U.S. Women's Open Notebook: Finishing hole to be a tough test at Cherry Hills

Nine Europeans return from the U.S. Open to play in the French Open in Paris

06.22.2005 09:19 pm (EST)

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam engaged in a friendly match Wednesday at Cherry Hills, trying her best to treat this U.S. Women's Open like any other week instead of such a grand occasion.

"Let's go, you've got to make some birdies,'' she teased Lorena Ochoa on the par-3 sixth tee. "I'm going to have to send you an invoice.''

Ochoa pulled her tee shot into the rough. Sorenstam's shot never left the flag.

But when she settled into her chair before a room crammed with reporters and television cameras, Sorenstam was reminded that this is no ordinary week. Having already won the first two major championships of the year, Sorenstam has reached a critical juncture in her quest for the Grand Slam.

"This is a great challenge for me. This is a true test for me, to see if I can handle it,'' she said. "This is the challenge I've been looking for, and it's all about controlling your emotions and your shots out there.''

Adding to the drama is the historical significance of Cherry Hills.

It was on this tree-lined course 45 years ago that Arnold Palmer charged from behind to win the U.S. Open, which inspired him to resurrect the concept of a Grand Slam -- winning all four majors in one year.

Palmer never got it done, losing by one shot at the Open Championship.

Mickey Wright, Jack Nicklaus, Pat Bradley and Tiger Woods all got halfway there when circumstances intervened, whether it was their own errant shots, bad weather or great golf by someone else.

Bradley recalled a week at the 1986 U.S. Women's Open in which there was a chemical spill near the course that kept players from returning to their hotel, and a tornado. Palmer dealt with torrential rain that canceled a round. Woods ran into raging winds at Muirfield, sending him to an 81.

"To win the slam, you have to be able to control yourself,'' Palmer said Wednesday morning from his office in Latrobe, Pa. "Then there are outside factors you have no control over, that people don't think about. You've just got to hope they work out for you.

"Unquestionably, she's got the golf,'' Palmer said. "As long as she keeps her cool, I think she can do it.''

There is little evidence anyone can stop her.

Sorenstam built a five-shot lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and won by eight. Two weeks ago the McDonald's LPGA Championship, she again led by five shots after 54 holes and was never seriously challenged. The best anyone could do was Michelle Wie, a 15-year-old who hits prodigious drives but still isn't old enough to drive a car.

Cherry Hills presents a different test.

The rough is thicker than anything the women saw at Mission Hills or Bulle Rock, sites of the first two majors. The greens were still relatively soft Wednesday, but the targets are smaller than they seem because of the slope. At 6,749 yards, this is the longest course in Women's Open history.

In other words, it's perfect for Sorenstam.

"She'll be tough to be beat,'' Laura Davies said. "I'm sure she was pleased when she saw this for the first time, because it's right up her alley. It favors accuracy and length, and that's her forte. If she can blow away the field, this is the golf course she can do it on.''

The greatest challenge might be the pressure.

Sorenstam laid out her grand plans a year ago -- she wanted to be the first player, male or female, to win the four professional majors in the same year -- before failing to win the first one.

Now that she has won the first two, she has become increasingly aware of the history she can make.

"I'm only halfway,'' she said. "These next two are going to be the toughest two.''

Asked later what made the U.S. Women's Open and the Women's British Open next month at Royal Birkdale the toughest two legs of the Grand Slam, she quickly replied, "Because the pressure is building.''

She is certainly no stranger to pressure.

There was a time two years ago when Sorenstam wasn't sure she could lift her 4-wood off the ground as she stood on the 10th tee at Colonial, some 10,000 people gathered around to see her become the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour.

In many respects, her missed cut at Colonial prepared her for times like these.

The 34-year-old Swede has won 19 of 38 times on the LPGA Tour since Colonial, and five of the last nine majors. She has looked unbeatable at times this year, winning six of her eight starts.

But respect and appreciation should not be mistaken for a white flag of surrender.

Meg Mallon found the secret to beating Sorenstam last year at the Women's Open, closing with a 65 at the Orchards for a two-shot victory. Juli Inkster got it done three years ago at Prairie Dunes, shooting a 66 in the final round to go from a two-shot deficit to a two-shot victory.

"Every player out here is a great player,'' Mallon said. "They just have to figure out how they're going to play great themselves. That's what I did so well last year. That's how players have to approach it. They can't start playing another player, especially in golf.''

Then again, Sorenstam keeps taking her game to new heights.

Her golf is robotic at times, an amazing display of fairways and greens. She has practiced with Tiger Woods to put imagination into her short game and adding more distance between herself and those trying to chase her.

"She finds her weaknesses and makes them better,'' Mallon said. "She was good, but she made herself great.''

Over the next four days, Sorenstam will find out if she can continue her quest to be simply grand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US spy plane crashes in SW Asia

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US spy plane crashes in SW Asia US spy plane crashes in SW Asia
A US Air Force U-2 spy plane has crashed in south-west Asia killing the pilot, the US military has said.

The crash occurred at 2330 GMT on Tuesday, when the pilot was returning to base after completing a mission in support of US forces in Afghanistan.

A military spokesman said the location of the crash would not be released because of "host nation sensitivities".

The U-2 is a high-altitude surveillance aircraft first developed in the Cold War and manned by a single pilot.

Regional sensitivities

The cause of the crash is not known and US Central Command said a full investigation would be convened.

The specific location is not releasable due to host nation sensitivities
US Air Force Capt David W Small

The site of the crash has been secured to ensure the safety of local citizens and the integrity of the site for the investigation team, the statement said.

The United Arab Emirates agency WAM said the aircraft crashed while trying to land at an air force base in the country. The pilot's unit - the 380th Expeditionary Wing - is based at the Al-Dhafra air base, near Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile a senior official in Iran, another country potentially on the U-2's flight path, told AP news agency that he was "not aware" of any such aircraft crashing there.

But US officials have refused to confirm the location of the crash.

"The specific location is not releasable due to host nation sensitivities," US Air Force Capt David W Small, a Central Command spokesman, said.

Correspondents say south-west Asia is a phrase often used by the US military to refer to the Middle East.

The name of the pilot will not be released until next of kin are informed.

"The airmen of the 380th Expeditionary Wing mourn the loss of a true American hero in the service of his country," Col Darryl Burke, the wing's commander, said in a statement.

The long, thin plane, with a wing-span of 100 feet (30.5m) is able to cruise at 90,000ft (27,430m) - more than 17 miles (27km) up - so high that the pilot has to wear a spacesuit.

Cold War stalwart

The U-2 was an invaluable US surveillance tool during the Cold War, able to photograph Soviet military facilities and operating in great secrecy.

In 1960 a U-2 was shot down by a volley of Soviet surface-to-air missiles. The pilot, Gary Powers, ejected but was captured and held for two years on spying charges.

It was also a U-2 that took the photographs of Soviet missiles being put into Cuba in October 1962.

Defence experts say the original U-2 aircraft were highly unsafe and 80-90% of them eventually crashed or were shot down.

But later versions, the U-2R and U-2S, though 40% bigger, are much more reliable.

Japan Today - News - U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning - Japan's Leading International News Network Thursday, June 23, 2005

U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning

Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 07:51 JST
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved, by a vote of 286 to 130, a measure which aims to outlaw desecration of the American flag.

Supporters said the law was meant in particular to discourage demonstrators who might burn or otherwise damage the flag in the course of a protest.

"Freedom of political speech does not include the destruction of a physical object — especially one that thousands of soldiers have sworn and fought to protect," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

"The flag protection resolution does not restrict the constitutional rights of any one person. It restores legal respect to the flag by allowing states to make their own laws concerning the defense of our nation's most precious symbol of freedom," the Republican leader said.

The top House Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, spoke on the House floor against the measure.

"I oppose the flag desecration constitutional amendment," she said. "To truly honor our flag, we should honor what the flag ultimately symbolizes - our commitment to freedom and democracy, including free speech, even speech that we find distasteful."

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the burning of an American flag was an example of protected political speech under the Constitution, a decision which the House bill meant to undo.

The resolution does not directly prohibit desecration of the U.S. flag, but it empowers individual states to legislate against the burning and desecration of the American flag.

The flag protection amendment requires the vote of a two-third majority of each chamber of Congress and would only become effective upon ratification by the legislatures of three quarters of the states.

The House has passed a similar measure in each of the past five years, but the measure has yet to clear the Senate. (Wire reports)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan ship joins island dispute

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan ship joins island dispute Taiwan ship joins island dispute
A Taiwanese warship visited disputed fishing grounds on Tuesday, after Taiwanese fishermen complained of harassment by Japanese patrol boats.

Defence Minister Lee Jye and a group of MPs including speaker Wang Jin-pyng were aboard the frigate, which visited the area around the Diaoyu Islands.

The islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku, are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.

The frigate returned to Taiwan without incident.

Mr Wang said Taiwan had the right to defend its sovereignty.

"This area belongs to us historically, geographically and legally," he told reporters before boarding along with a cross-party group of 15 MPs.

"We must defend our sovereignty and protect our fishing rights."

It's good to see it's finally our turn to scare the Japanese
Unnamed fisherman

A military spokesman, Liou Chih-chien, described the voyage as an "inspection tour" and said that while the frigate would enter disputed waters it would not approach the actual islands.

The Fengyang frigate is armed with air defence missiles and will be escorted at a distance by other Taiwanese ships and aircraft, the officials added.

'Standing up'

Opposition politicians in Taiwan have criticised the government for failing to stand up to Japan.

"The entire nation is waiting for the government to show its guts and stand up to Japan," said one independent MP, May Chin.

The dispatch of the Fengyang comes after 50 Taiwanese fishing boats staged a rare protest in the disputed area earlier this month.

They were protesting at being frequently driven out of the waters by Japanese patrol boats.

Some Taiwanese fishermen have reportedly called for protection from China, Taiwan's arch-rival.

One unnamed fisherman told a Taiwanese TV station he was please to see the frigate being sent out.

"It's good to see it's finally our turn to scare the Japanese - they have always bullied us and make us feel we are thieves at sea," he told cable news network TVBS.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sky News : CIA Claims To Know Bin Laden's Hideaway

Sky News : CIA Claims To Know Bin Laden's Hideaway: "CIA 'TRACE' BIN LADEN
The head of the CIA says he has an "excellent" idea where Osama bin Laden is but political sensitivities make it hard to catch him.

Porter Goss said the US had to respect the sovereignty of nations which might be sucked into the hunt for the terrorist leader.

The head of the US intelligence had been asked about progress was being made in the search for bin Laden.

He told Time magazine: "When you go to the question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.

"We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways."

Asked if that meant he knew where bin Laden was, Mr Goss replied: "I have an excellent idea where he is."

But he did not say where that was or what countries he was referring to when speaking of "sanctuaries".

American officials have long said they believe bin Laden to be hiding out in mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

They invaded Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of September 2001 claiming the Taliban, which ruled the country, were giving him shelter.

BBC NEWS | Business | Wolfowitz hails Africa turnaround

BBC NEWS | Business | Wolfowitz hails Africa turnaround Wolfowitz hails Africa turnaround
New World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has praised the new generation of African leaders for their commitment to tackling corruption.

At the end of his visit to the region he praised South African President Thabo Mbeki for sacking his deputy over allegations of corruption.

The move was hailed as a firm step in rooting out corruption.

"There's a new leadership in Africa that's taking responsibility," Mr Wolfowitz said at a press conference.

I hope I can push the Bank staff to look at the mistakes of the past so that we don't repeat them
Paul Wolfowitz

Last week, President Mbeki sacked his deputy Jacob Zuma after his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of corruption and fraud.

But following his visit, Mr Wolfowitz also admitted that the West had played a part in many of the regions problems.

"I hope I can push the Bank staff to look at the mistakes of the past so that we don't repeat them," he told the BBC.

His tour of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Africa came just days after G8 leaders agreed to cancel the multi-lateral debts of 18 of the world's poorest countries. The cancelled debt was worth a total of $40bn.

The World Bank chief said he hoped that next month's G8 summit in Scotland would deliver added impetus to the region's development.

"I hope it's going to give impetus to debt reduction for Nigeria," he said.

"There are a number of other ideas on the table, including, by the way, in the area of peacekeeping and security, which is a major problem for this continent."

New battles

He also warned such change would not be a simple matter of aid.

"It's also a matter of reducing farm subsidies and opening markets; it's a matter of fighting corruption ... every corrupt transaction has two people involved - there's a corruptee, if you want to call it that, and a corruptor, and some of those corruptors are in developed countries."

Ahead of his visit, there had been some concern about the controversial appointment of America's former hard-line deputy defence secretary as head of the World Bank.

However, he has battled hard to cultivate a different image as a champion of African development in the past week.

Despite some demonstrations against his role in the war in Iraq, the local response to his visit was warmer than expected.

"I am very pleased indeed that we are actually of one mind about the need to focus on these development challenges, look at the practical things that need to be done and look for positive results," South Africa's president Mbeki told reporters.

BBC SPORT | Golf | Campbell clinches US Open glory

BBC SPORT | Golf | Campbell clinches US Open glory Campbell clinches US Open glory

US unless stated
Level Michael Campbell (NZ)
+2 Tiger Woods
+5 Sergio Garcia (Spa), Tim Clark (SA), Mark Hensby (Aus)
+6 Davis Love, Rocco Mediate, Vijay Singh (Fij)
New Zealand's Michael Campbell held off a late charge by Tiger Woods to win the 105th US Open at Pinehurst.

The 36-year-old carded a final-round 69 for level par to beat Woods (69) by two and claim his first major title.

Campbell began the day four shots behind overnight leader Retief Goosen but went in front as the defending champion imploded with a round of 81.

Spain's Sergio Garcia, South African Tim Clark and Australian Mark Hensby tied for third on five over.

Campbell, who secured the last US Open qualifying spot at Walton Heath, become the first Kiwi to win a major title since Bob Charles took the Open Championship at Lytham 42 years ago.

His previous best major finish was tied third at the 1995 Open after leading for three rounds.

"I've worked really hard for this," said Campbell. "I've had ups and downs through my whole career but it's worth the work. It's just amazing.

I was telling myself 20 times a hole, 'keep your focus'
US Open champion Michael Campbell

"It's completely changed my whole career. I can't believe I'm holding this trophy.

"I kept thinking about Bob [Charles]. I thought if I can shoot two or three under in the last round I've got a chance.

"Things went my way; I holed some long putts and some par-saving putts. I was telling myself 20 times a hole, 'keep your focus'."

If I had putted normally, I would be looking a lot better right now
Tiger Woods

Campbell birdied his first hole and soon joined Goosen in the lead at level par after the South African leaked a double bogey and a bogey in his first three holes.

Goosen, whose nerveless putting of last year at Shinnecock Hills deserted him, dropped another shot at the fifth to give Campbell the outright lead.

The South African went on to drop further shots at the sixth and ninth to go out in 41 and made four straight bogeys from the 12th.

Campbell, from Wellington, dropped a shot at the eighth but birdies at 10 and 12 took him clear.

World number one Woods, a nine-time major winner, began bogey-bogey but made birdies at four and seven.

He took over as Campbell's main challenger with further birdies at 10 and 11 as the final round really came alight.

I just got off to a terrible start, but I'll be back to try again
Retief Goosen

He made another at 15 to get to within one of Campbell.

Bogeys at 16 and 17 derailed the surge and despite a birdie on the last, Campbell's bogey-birdie-bogey finish was enough to secure the prize.

"I'm pleased with the way I played. I controlled my ball very well and I've made big strides on my ball striking since Augusta," said Woods.

"But I'm not pleased with my putting. If I had putted normally, I would be looking a lot better right now.

"I couldn't get the pace right all week and pace determines line."

American Davis Love III (69) was one of only four players under par on the final day - along with Campbell, Woods and Stewart Cink (69) - as he climbed to six over alongside countryman Rocco Mediate (71) and Fiji's Vijay Singh (72).

Goosen finished on eight over for a share of 11th, while American playing partner Jason Gore, ranked 818th in the world at the beginning of the tournament, finished with 84 for 14 over.

"I just got off to a terrible start, but I'll be back to try again," said Goosen.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Wolfowitz seeks more Africa aid

BBC NEWS | Africa | Wolfowitz seeks more Africa aid Wolfowitz seeks more Africa aid
By David Loyn
BBC Developing world correspondent

The new head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has called for a big increase in US aid to Africa.

Mr Wolfowitz's comments came at the end of his first visit to the continent.

He signalled that he was willing to put pressure on Washington to increase aid, even to the point of reaching the international target - 0.7% GDP.

The move would mean more than trebling the US aid budget. Mr Wolfowitz also said he would like to see an end to farm subsidies.

I'd like to see increased levels of US assistance by whatever means we get there, particularly for Africa
Paul Wolfowitz

US subsidies on cotton in particular have caused severe hardship to African producers who have found it hard to compete.

Drumming support

The appointment of Mr Wolfowitz, a close political ally of US President George W Bush, was the most controversial as head of the World Bank for many years.

But after his Africa trip he signalled that he was prepared to put pressure on the US administration.

"I'd like to see increased levels of US assistance by whatever means we get there, particularly for Africa," Mr Wolfowitz said.

I came here to grow beautiful flowers on the ashes of genocide
Rwandan businesswoman

"I think there are some large political constituencies in the United States on both sides of the political aisle that I believe can be mobilised to support that."

Next month, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is hoping to secure an aid increase to Africa from the G8 nations, but has so far failed to persuade Mr Bush of his case.

But Mr. Wolfowitz said too that money needs to come from private donors.

He stressed that aid increases needed to be linked to performance, and to improvements in transparency, since too much aid money has disappeared into the pockets of corrupt leaders.

Africa's potential

He spoke warmly about the potential of people he met in Burkina Faso and Rwanda as well as Nigeria and South Africa.

He was clearly moved by the people he met, particularly women, who he said would provide the key to Africa's progress.

In Rwanda, he met a woman who had set up a successful flower-exporting business.

She told him: "I came here to grow beautiful flowers on the ashes of genocide."

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan PM at tense Seoul summit

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan PM at tense Seoul summit Japan PM at tense Seoul summit
Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has arrived in South Korea for key talks aimed at mending damaged ties between the two neighbours.

Protestors burned the Japanese flag and called for Mr Koizumi to resign.

Relations have been hurt by a row over history textbooks, disputed islands and Mr Koizumi's visits to Japan's Yasukuni Shrine, which honours its war dead.

The neighbours, both US allies, are also expected to discuss the deadlock over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

The communist state indicated last week that it may return to six-nation negotiations over its weapons programme if the US showed it more respect.

The Japan-South Korea summit is scheduled to begin at about 1500 local time (0600 GMT).

About 20 protesters rallied in front of the Japanese embassy, and another 50 or so demonstrated outside the presidential office where the summit is expected to take place.

"We denounce Prime Minister Koizumi for spearheading Japan's revival of militarism that is driving Asia again into a conflict," the protesters said in a statement.

Mr Koizumi said before he left Tokyo that he wanted "frank" discussions with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

"It would be a pity to end friendly relations only because we have differences of opinion over a limited number of issues," he said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon told Reuters news agency that solving the dispute over Japan's wartime past was essential for restoring accord.

"Without a resolution of the history issue, reconciliation and co-operation between neighbours will be impossible," he said.

Yasukuni row

South Korea and China - both invaded by Japan during World War II - have attacked Mr Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine and new school history books as a glorification of Japanese militarism.

Mr Koizumi maintains he prays for peace at the shrine, and has dismissed calls for a secular national war memorial.

"I don't want there to be misunderstanding that Yasukuni shrine would be abolished or that (a new memorial) would replace Yasukuni," AFP news agency quoted him as saying before leaving for Seoul.

Relations between the two countries plummeted in April after the publication of a Japanese history textbook that, according to South Korea, glossed over atrocities committed by Tokyo's imperial army in World War II.

South Koreans protested in the streets, their anger fuelled by Mr Koizumi's earlier claim that a small group of islands in the sea between the two countries belonged to Japan.

Seoul and Tokyo had named 2005 as a year of celebration to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between the neighbours.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Iran Moderate Says Hard-Liners Rigged Election - New York Times

Iran Moderate Says Hard-Liners Rigged Election - New York TimesJune 19, 2005
Iran Moderate Says Hard-Liners Rigged Election

TEHRAN, June 18 - The race for the presidency in Iran was thrown into turmoil on Saturday when the third-place finisher accused conservative hard-liners of rigging the election and cutting him out of the runoff vote next week, which will be between a former president and the conservative mayor of Tehran.

The accusation of voting irregularities came from Mehdi Karroubi, a cleric and former speaker of Parliament known as a conciliator, who said he would continue to press his case publicly unless the country's supreme religious leader ordered an independent investigation.

It was a bold move in a country that does not generally tolerate such forms of public dissent, and it threw an element of confusion and uncertainty into the race just as the authorities were finalizing the election results, planning for the runoff and pointing to the outcome as a validation of this country's religion-based system of government.

The Interior Ministry issued final figures Saturday night, saying the former two-term president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, would face off against the hard-line mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a runoff it said would probably be held next Friday. It was unclear what, if any, effect the accusations of fraud would have on the planned vote.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's strong showing came as a shock to the political establishment here. He had hovered at the back of the field of candidates in pre-election opinion surveys and his political base was said to be limited to the capital city. An element of the bizarre in the events on Saturday came as Mr. Ahmadinejad announced that he would be in the runoff hours before the ministry issued its own results.

The government did not immediately respond to the charges of vote tampering, but the cloud had been hanging over the race since the early morning hours when the Interior Ministry found its results being publicly contradicted on state television by the Guardian Council, the panel controlled by hard-line clerics that has the ultimate say over all government actions and often clashes with the reform-controlled elected government. The council has, for example, the power to unilaterally reject the outcome of the election.

Initially, the Interior Ministry had Mr. Rafsanjani first, Mr. Karroubi, the former speaker of the Parliament, in second, and Mr. Ahmadinejad third. Half an hour later the Guardian Council, which is not supposed to be involved in counting ballots, said Mr. Ahmadinejad was in first place.

Apparently hoping to head off an embarrassing public split, the departing president, Mohammad Khatami, visited the site where the ballots were being counted in the morning and offered words of assurance.

"All our efforts have been to hold a healthy election and to protect peoples votes," Mr. Khatami said in comments broadcast on national news. "I have come here to thank officials at the Interior Ministry and to make sure votes are being counted very carefully. If anyone has made any other comments, it is not right."

But the effort failed as Mr. Karroubi made his charges public. As the former speaker of Parliament, he was a member of the reform movement but often worked closely with the conservatives. He has made it clear that if he becomes president he will support working within the current system.

His charges gained some added currency on Saturday night when they were echoed by Dr. Mostafa Moin, the reform candidate who came in fifth after public opinion polls had shown him vying for second place. Dr. Moin said in a statement that military forces in the country joined together with some political organizations to rig the election and to promote a particular candidate, though he did not say which one.

"This is a warning for democracy," Dr. Moin said in the statement. "We must be aware that such efforts will eventually lead to militarizing the regime, and political and social supression. This is a threat for civil society and is blocking reform."

Mr. Karroubi accused the Guardian Council and elements of the Revolutionary Guard of working together to rig the election. He said the government of Mr. Khatami was powerless to change anything.

"There have been interferences, they have paid money," Mr. Karroubi said as he called on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme religious leader, to set up an independent body to investigate the administration and outcome of the election.

In declaring himself a candidate in the runoff, Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed Mr. Karroubi's charges as words from a sore loser.

"It is very obvious that the one who has lost would protest now," Mr. Ahmadinejad said. "I expect Mr. Karroubi, who is a cleric and wears sacred clothes, to make his comments with more attention."

When voters went to cast their ballots on Friday, public opinion polls, which are conducted by government controlled agencies, showed Mr. Rafsanjani in first place with Dr. Moin and the former police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, competing for second. But the results confounded the expectations.

"It is very strange," Hermidas Davoud Bavand, a professor of international law at Alameh University in Tehran, said of the results. "As far as guesswork and assumptions and taking into consideration the popularity of the candidates, nobody predicted this."

Analysts trying to explain the candidates' come-from-nowhere successes said Mr. Ahmadinejad's candidacy seemed to represent the conservative movement's last stand in its effort to hold back a society moving toward more liberal ideas, while Mr. Karroubi's appeal was more pragmatic: he offered to give $60 a month to every Iranian if elected.

"Fifty or 60 dollars a month can make a big difference to a family with four or five kids," said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a political analyst in Tehran and a university professor. "These families figure if he keeps his promise, great, and if not, he is like the rest of them."

But others saw a dark hand in the election process. An aide to Dr. Moin said that their campaign had information that representatives of the Guardian Council who were only supposed to monitor polling places got involved in counting ballots. Mr. Karroubi was more specific in his charges, saying that money was paid in certain cities to encourage people to vote a certain way, and that the authorities pressured people to vote for the candidates supported by the hard-line religious leaders.

"I think some of the power bases have changed the decision," he said at his news conference. "I have documents. I can show tapes to prove there have been speeches to make people to vote for certain candidates."

The election controversy also served to underscore one of the most active fault lines in the Islamic republic, where elected government officials are on one side and appointed religious leaders on the other.

"The Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry represent two different powers," said Ramin Jahanbegloo, director of the Department of Contemporary Studies in the Cultural Research Bureau, a research institution based in Tehran. "It is a competition over controlling the statistics and controlling the status quo. The Guardian Council wants to control the status quo."

The Guardian Council also tried to inject itself into the calculation of how many voters turned out to the polls. Initially, the Interior Ministry said turnout was 55 percent. By 9 p.m., it reported that 29 million ballots were cast, with a turnout of about 62 percent - Mr. Rafsanjani came in first with 6.1 million votes, Mr. Ahmadinejad was second with 5.7 million and Mr. Karroubi was third with 5 million.

The Guardian Council announced Saturday morning a turnout of about 70 percent.

When asked by Iranian reporters on Saturday about the difference between the vote tally of the Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry, Mr. Khatami said: "Eventually they should be exactly the same. One or 2 percent is not important."

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting for this article.