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Saturday, July 23, 2005

U.N. Condemns Zimbabwe for Bulldozing Urban Slums - New York Times

U.N. Condemns Zimbabwe for Bulldozing Urban Slums - New York TimesJuly 23, 2005
U.N. Condemns Zimbabwe for Bulldozing Urban Slums
By WARREN HOGE

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 - The United Nations on Friday condemned the mass destruction of urban slums and shantytowns in Zimbabwe by the government of President Robert G. Mugabe as a "disastrous venture," saying the policy had left 700,000 people homeless and created a "humanitarian crisis of immense proportions."

In a toughly worded report, the United Nations demanded that the activity be stopped immediately, that compensation and assistance be arranged for victims and that the leaders of the campaign be prosecuted.

In an accompanying statement that called the report "profoundly distressing," Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "I call on the government to stop these forced evictions and demolitions immediately, and to ensure that those who orchestrated this ill-advised policy are held fully accountable for their actions."

Mr. Annan said the United Nations would "urgently" seek agreement with Mr. Mugabe's government in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, to mobilize assistance "on the scale that is required to avert further suffering." He urged the government to recognize the state of emergency and give free access to international aid workers.

Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, told a news conference in Harare that the report, which was made available to the government on Wednesday, was hostile, biased and wrong. "The report described the operation in vastly judgmental language which clearly demonstrates its inbuilt bias against the operation," he said.

The government campaign, which began without warning on May 19, has resulted in the bulldozing of shacks, workshops and market stalls across Zimbabwe's urban centers, with the evicted people robbed of their livelihoods and forced to withstand winter weather in tents, makeshift shelters and transit camps.

Mr. Mugabe has defended the undertaking, called Operation Restore Order, as an urban renewal plan devised to bring stability to Zimbabwe by cracking down on illicit activities and illegal structures.

The report said the program was referred to derisively by locals as Operation Tsunami. Opposition politicians say the evictions are aimed at dispersing their supporters from the cities to rural areas.

The 100-page report, compiled after a two-week fact-finding trip by Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, a Tanzanian specialist in rural economics sent as a United Nations special envoy, said removals had been "carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," leaving Zimbabwe in "a virtual state of emergency" from which it would take years to emerge.

While the report said that the government was "collectively responsible" for what had occurred, it principally blamed an unnamed "few architects" of the policy and said the people of Zimbabwe should hold them accountable.

At a United Nations news conference, Mrs. Tibaijuka turned aside repeated questions about whether Mr. Mugabe himself was one of the plan's architects.

"I was not sent on an exercise to apportion blame," said Mrs. Tibaijuka, who leads the Nairobi-based United Nations human settlements program, known as Habitat. She also declined to say whether Mr. Mugabe had expressed remorse in either of their two meetings.

Speaking less diplomatically in her report, she said, "It remains the strong recommendation of the envoy that the culprits who have caused this man-made disaster be brought to book."

Mr. Mugabe, 81, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says Zimbabwe is being unfairly criticized by opponents of his land program, in which the government gave white-owned land to blacks.

In an apparent rebuke to Mr. Mugabe's claim to be acting to rid Zimbabwe of the vestiges of colonialism, Mrs. Tibaijuka said the government had itself pursued "a disastrous venture based on a set of colonial-era laws and policies that were used as a tool of segregation and social exclusion."

The blunt report comes as African leaders have resisted criticizing Mr. Mugabe despite evidence of the widespread devastation his policies have provoked.

Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia are among those that have praised some of Mr. Mugabe's economic policies in recent months or stopped protesters from faulting them. The African Union, the organization created five years ago to promote continentwide economic, political and human rights standards, responded to a recent demand from the Group of 8 industrial nations by calling Zimbabwe's crisis an internal matter.

Thabo Mbeki, president of Zimbabwe's powerful neighbor, South Africa, has long argued that "quiet diplomacy" is needed to help Zimbabwe and has remained silent on the mass evictions, though some African religious and labor leaders have condemned the campaign and called for aid for the victims.

While Mrs. Tibaijuka said there might be grounds for an international case charging crimes against humanity, she said that the Zimbabwean government had an obligation to "prosecute all those who orchestrated this catastrophe."

The report said that "death allegations are coming from so many quarters that they warrant an independent inquest, since the police carried out the operation." It said the government had not issued a single "confirmation or negation" of death.

Mrs. Tibaijuka's mission in Zimbabwe was from June 25 to July 8, and she said she had been given such unimpeded access and freedom of movement that she had been allowed to witness two acts of destruction.

As for whether the authorities would be able to undertake the broad measures she was recommending, Mrs. Tibaijuka said, "Operation Restore Order provides clear indications that the government of Zimbabwe has the wherewithal to implement policies at a lightning speed when it has the political will."

Blasts in Egypt Kill at Least 59 at Sinai Resort - New York Times

Blasts in Egypt Kill at Least 59 at Sinai Resort - New York TimesJuly 23, 2005
Blasts in Egypt Kill at Least 59 at Sinai Resort
By MONA EL-NAGGAR and GREG MYRE

SHARM EL SHEIK, Egypt, Saturday, July 23 - At least 59 people were killed in a series of powerful explosions early Saturday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik, Egypt's interior minister said.

About 116 people were wounded in the blasts, the interior minister, Habib El-Adly, said. The explosions were apparently caused by car bombs at hotels and a market that catered mostly to European and Arab tourists, The Associated Press reported, citing security officials. Fire and smoke rose in Sharm el Sheik and nearby Naama Bay, which also has a strip of beach hotels.

Mr. El-Adly said investigators had started to gather clues from one of the cars used in the bombings, and he added that those behind Saturday's attacks could have links to those who conducted attacks last October on resorts in the Sinai Peninsula. In those attacks, three nearly simultaneous explosions ripped apart hotels in Taba, on the border with Israel, and two other Sinai resorts, killing 34 people, many of them Israelis.

Saturday's bombings appeared to be the deadliest terror attack in Egypt since a 1997 assault in Luxor, on the Nile River, that killed 58 tourists.

The explosions rocked the resort area shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday and all took place within a few minutes of one another, witnesses said.

"I heard two blasts and got up and ran out of the hotel," Yasmine el-Bahey, an Egyptian spending the weekend at the Kahramana Hotel, said in a telephone interview. "Everybody was running outside. Glass was shattered and there was a big cloud of black. Everybody ran to the beach. Many of them were naked."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and it was not clear whether the bombs were in parked cars or detonated by suicide bombers.

"What happened early this morning is rejected by all people," Egypt's tourism minister, Ahmed el-Maghrabi, told Egyptian television. "These criminal gangs will not be able to prevent people from traveling and moving."

The most powerful bombs went off in a parking lot between the Ghazala and Mövenpick hotels in Sharm el Sheik's Naama Bay area.

The Ghazala Hotel was "completely burned down, destroyed," Amal Mustafa, an Egyptian visitor, told The Associated Press. Television footage showed parts of the building burned out.

Another large bomb exploded in a popular market area a few miles away, the A.P. reported. That blast killed 17 people, many of them believed to be Egyptians sitting at a coffee shop. In addition, a blast occurred at a busy taxi stand, Egyptian television reported.

Despite the late hour, the streets were still busy because many people stay indoors during the heat of the day and come out late at night.

The violence occurred as Egypt prepared to hold its first multicandidate presidential elections in September. President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 24 years, has prided himself on maintaining stability and has portrayed the elections as a significant reform. However, protesters and other critics of Mr. Mubarak say that opposition candidates will have little chance.

Sharm el Sheik, at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, is Egypt's leading resort and draws foreign tourists year-round from Europe and the Arab world. The area is particularly popular among scuba divers and snorkelers who are drawn to the clear water and abundant marine life. Sharm el Sheik is also used for international summit meetings: Mr. Mubarak was host to Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, there in February when the Israelis and Palestinians announced a truce.

But the Sinai Peninsula has also been a target for bombers. The bombings last October in Taba and two other places were aimed at resorts that are popular among Israelis, who accounted for many of the casualties. The Egyptian authorities linked that attack to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The trial of three men suspected of involvement in the attacks began this month.

In first reports on the bombing on Saturday, the casualties included people from Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the A.P. reported, citing a security official.

Egypt's economy depends heavily on tourism, and the industry had recovered after the series of terror attacks in the 1990's that drove away many Western visitors.

After the 1997 attack in Luxor, Mr. Mubarak's government launched a sweeping crackdown against Muslim radicals opposed to his rule. No major attacks were carried out in Egypt until the bombings last October.

Mona el-Naggar reported from Cairo and Sharm el Sheik for this article, and Greg Myre from Jerusalem.

Friday, July 22, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Several killed in Egyptian blasts

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Several killed in Egyptian blasts Several killed in Egyptian blasts
At least 20 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a string of explosions in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, police said.

Residents said the first explosion appeared to have taken place in a market area, which includes shops that are popular with tourists.

Witnesses said a four-star hotel was heavily damaged in another explosion in the nearby Naama Bay area.

Preliminary reports said the blasts might have been caused by car bombs.

Last October, 34 people died in bombings in the area.

The first blast, which took place shortly after 0100 local time (2200 GMT), shook windows some distance away, and smoke was seen rising over the area, residents said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google site 'used by drug gang'

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google site 'used by drug gang' Google site 'used by drug gang'
Ten people have been arrested in Brazil after authorities discovered them allegedly using Google's online community site, Orkut, to sell drugs.

The drugs ring was uncovered after police tapped phone calls and monitored online communications through Orkut.

The site, used for building online communities and making contacts, is hugely popular in Latin America.

According to media reports, more than half of the seven million community members are from Brazil.

"We discovered the drug ring first via authorised phone tapping, and later the investigation included monitoring of their activities on the internet," an officer at the Drugs Enforcement Service in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro, told the Reuters news agency.

"We are aware of the situation and are currently looking into it," Google said in a statement.

"When we are made aware of situations that are against our terms of service we take appropriate action."

Social spaces

Orkut, launched by Google in 2004, is an invitation-only service which lets people build up networks of contacts with whom they chat.

It is similar to other social networking sites which have become increasingly popular such as Friendster, and MySpace which was recently bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The Brazilian authorities say that the drug dealers used the Orkut network service to link up deals to sell ecstasy and marijuana.

The online community site was created by Turkish software engineer Orkut Buyukkokten.

For Two Aides in Leak Case, 2nd Issue Rises - New York Times

For Two Aides in Leak Case, 2nd Issue Rises - New York Timesuly 22, 2005
For Two Aides in Leak Case, 2nd Issue Rises
By DAVID JOHNSTON

This article was reported by David Johnston, Douglas Jehl and Richard W. Stevenson and was written by Mr. Johnston.

WASHINGTON, July 21 - At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative's identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.

The two issues had become inextricably linked because Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the unmasked C.I.A. officer, had questioned Mr. Bush's assertion, prompting a damage-control effort by the White House that included challenging Mr. Wilson's standing and his credentials. A federal grand jury investigation is under way by a special counsel to determine whether someone illegally leaked the officer's identity and possibly into whether perjury or obstruction of justice occurred during the inquiry.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.

The work done by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby on the Tenet statement during this intense period has not been previously disclosed. People who have been briefed on the case discussed this critical time period and the events surrounding it to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's address. Those people who have been briefed requested anonymity because prosecutors have asked them not to discuss matters under investigation.

The special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has been examining this period of time to determine whether the officials' work on the Tenet statement led in some way to the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, according to the people who have been briefed.

It is not clear what information Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby might have collected about Ms. Wilson as they worked on the Tenet statement. Mr. Rove has said he learned her name from Mr. Novak. Mr. Libby has declined to discuss the matter.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's expert on weapons proliferation, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.

Ms. Hughes is to have her confirmation hearing on Friday on her nomination to lead the State Department's public diplomacy operation. Mr. Joseph was recently confirmed as under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As part of their confirmation proceedings, both had to fill out questionnaires listing any legal matters they had become involved in.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby did not meet face to face while hammering out the critical points that were desired for the Tenet statement, the people briefed on the case said.

In its final version, the Tenet statement, through its language and tone, supported the contention that senior White House officials were focused on addressing the substance of Mr. Wilson's claims. It did not mention Mr. Wilson or his wife, and Mr. Libby made it clear that Vice President Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson to Africa, a notion some said Mr. Wilson had suggested in his article. The defenders of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby contend that the statement underscores that they were not trying to punish Mr. Wilson.

A former government official, though, added another element to how the statement was prepared, saying that no one directed Mr. Tenet to issue it and that Mr. Tenet himself felt it was needed. The statement said that the "C.I.A.'s counterproliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn."

In Mr. Wilson's article, he recounted a mission he undertook to Niger in 2002 seeking information about a purported effort by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to acquire uranium there, his conclusion that the effort had not occurred and the filing of his report.

In his State of the Union address in January 2003, Mr. Bush cited reports that Iraq had sought to acquire a form of uranium in Africa as evidence of Mr. Hussein's intentions to gain weapons that he might provide to terrorists, use to threaten the United States or employ against other nations in the Middle East.

Lawyers with clients in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald and his investigators have shown interest in a classified State Department memo that was provided to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, as he left for Africa on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and his top aides on July 7, 2003, a day after Mr. Wilson made his accusations public.

The memorandum identified Ms. Wilson by name and described her as having a role in her husband's selection for the mission to Niger. A government official said the paragraph in the memorandum identifying Ms. Wilson was preceded by the letter S in brackets, a designation meaning that contents of the paragraph were classified secret. The designation was first reported on Thursday by The Washington Post.

The investigators have been trying to determine who else within the administration might have seen the memo or learned of its contents.

Among those asked if he had seen the memo was Ari Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, who was on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell during the Africa trip. Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury.

Mr. Fleischer's role has been scrutinized by investigators, in part because his telephone log showed a call on the day after Mr. Wilson's article appeared from Mr. Novak, the columnist who, on July 14, 2003, was the first to report Ms. Wilson's identity.

In his column, Mr. Novak referred to her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, which she had used when first employed by the C.I.A. Mr. Fleischer has told the grand jury that he did not return Mr. Novak's call, a person familiar with the testimony said.

Mr. Rove has also told the grand jury that he never saw the memorandum, a person briefed on the case said. Democrats who have been eager to focus attention on the case have urged reporters to look into the role of several other administration officials, including John R. Bolton, who was then under secretary of state for arms control and international security and has since been nominated by Mr. Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations.

In his disclosure form for his confirmation hearings, Mr. Bolton made no mention of being interviewed in the case, a government official said. In the week after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, Mr. Bolton attended a conference in Australia.

In addition to ferreting out the original leak, the grand jury is examining the truthfulness of its witnesses, comparing each account with previous testimony. One apparent area of interest is the conflicting accounts given by Mr. Rove and Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine correspondent who has said he spoke to Mr. Rove about Ms. Wilson, about why they spoke on July 11, 2003.

Mr. Rove, said a source familiar with his testimony, told prosecutors that the conversation began under the pretext of discussing welfare reform.

But Mr. Cooper said he had no record or memory of actually talking to Mr. Rove about welfare reform, instead only discussing the Wilson case in their brief chat. The grand jury focused on that apparent discrepancy, Mr. Cooper wrote in an account in Time this week.

Anne E. Kornblut contributed reporting for this article.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

China CRIENGLISH

China CRIENGLISH China Says Will Not Change Nuclear Stance
2005-7-22 2:51:25 CRIENGLISH.com
China has reiterated that it will not first use nuclear weapons at any time and under any condition.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing made the remarks on Thursday when speaking to scholars from China, the United States and Japan.

Li said China has consistently observed the commitment since its first nuclear test in 1964 and such a stance "will not be changed in the future."

Li also reaffirmed the Chinese government's stance on the Taiwan issue, stressing China adheres to the principle of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems" to resolve the Taiwan problem.

He said, however, China will never allow anyone or any force to separate Taiwan from China by any means.

The Chinese, US and Japanese scholars are in Beijing to participate in an informal symposium on China-US-Japan relations sponsored by Beijing University and US-based Brookings Institution.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Four-billion-year chill' on Mars

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Four-billion-year chill' on MarsFour-billion-year chill' on Mars
By David Whitehouse
Science Editor, BBC News website

A chemical study of Martian meteorites implies that the planet has always been cold and was rarely above freezing.

Writing in Science, researchers have been able to determine the maximum temperature the rocks experienced.

There is no evidence they were ever warm, the team says, as the meteorites would have recorded near-surface conditions for four billion years.

The water erosional features seen on Mars must have been made during very brief periods, they conclude.

Thermal history

Although the current average temperature at the Martian equator is about minus 55 Celsius, many scientists believe that the Red Planet was once warm enough for liquid water to have existed on its surface, and for life to possibly have evolved.

There is plentiful evidence that water has flowed on the surface. This includes the presence of deep canyons, dried up river beds and many examples of deposits left behind by running water.

The ALH84001 meteorite couldn't have been above freezing for more than a million years during the last 3.5 billion years of history
David Shuster, California Institute of Technology
But the recent analysis, by David Shuster of the California Institute of Technology, and Benjamin Weiss, of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, of meteorites blasted off the surface of Mars to Earth seems to paint a different picture.

The new work involves two of the seven known "nakhlite" meteorites (named after El Nakhla, Egypt, where the first such meteorite was found), and the celebrated ALH84001 meteorite that some scientists believe shows evidence of past microbial activity on Mars.

Using geochemical analysis techniques, the researchers reconstructed a "thermal history" for each of the meteorites to estimate the maximum long-term average temperatures to which they were subjected.

"We looked at meteorites in two ways," says Weiss. "First, we evaluated what the meteorites could have experienced during ejection from Mars, 11 to 15 million years ago."

Their conclusions were that ALH84001 could never have been heated to a temperature higher than 350 Celsius for even a brief period of time during the last 15 million years.

The nakhlites, which also show very little evidence of shock-damage, were unlikely to have been above the boiling point of water during their ejection from Mars 11 million years ago.

'Leaking' Argon

The other part of the research addressed the long-term thermal history of the rocks while they resided on Mars. The scientists did this by estimating the total amount of argon still remaining in the samples.

The gas argon is present in the meteorites as well as in many rocks on Earth as a consequence of the radioactive decay of potassium. A noble gas, argon is not very chemically reactive, and because the decay rate is precisely known it can be used to date rocks.

However, argon is also known to leak out of rocks at a temperature-dependent rate. The cooler the rock has been, the more argon will have been retained.

The researchers found that only a tiny fraction of the argon that was originally produced in the meteorite samples had been lost through the aeons, suggesting that the Martian surface has been in deep-freeze for most of the last four billion years.

"The small amount of argon loss that has apparently taken place in these meteorites is remarkable. Any way we look at it, these rocks have been cold for a very long time," says Shuster.

"The ALH84001 meteorite, in fact, couldn't have been above freezing for more than a million years during the last 3.5 billion years of history."

Water, water, everywhere?

This new line of research is a puzzle given the contrary evidence of running water on Mars.

"Our research doesn't mean that there weren't pockets of isolated water in geothermal springs for long periods of time, but suggests instead that there haven't been large areas of free-standing water for four billion years," says Shuster.

"Our results seem to imply that surface features indicating the presence and flow of liquid water formed over relatively short time periods."

In fact, the evidence shows that during the last four billion years, Mars has likely never been sufficiently warm for liquid water to have flowed on the surface for extended periods of time.

This implies that Mars has probably never had a hospitable environment for life to have evolved, unless biology got started during the first half-billion years of its existence, when the planet was probably warmer.

The study is bound to be controversial showing a disparity between those scientists who look at pictures of Mars to discern its history and those who study the only pieces of the planet we can examine in detail in the laboratory.

Filibuster on Supreme Court Nominee Appears Unlikely - New York Times

Filibuster on Supreme Court Nominee Appears Unlikely - New York TimesJuly 21, 2005
Filibuster on Supreme Court Nominee Appears Unlikely
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, July 21 - The possibility of a filibuster against John G. Roberts, President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, appeared to recede today, as several Democrats emerged from a meeting of swing senators to say they did not envision their party trying to block the nomination.

"This is a credible nominee, and not one that - as far as we know now - has a record that in any sense could be described as extremist," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, after a breakfast session with the Gang of 14, a bipartisan group that helped broker a deal in May to avert a Senate showdown over judicial nominees.

While Mr. Lieberman and his Democratic colleagues were careful not to rule out a filibuster - "There's a lot I don't know about John Roberts," the Connecticut senator said - their remarks after the meeting suggested that, barring any surprise developments, they expected Judge Roberts to be eventually confirmed.

"At the end of the hearings we do not anticipate anything that would be a stickler, that would rise to the level of extraordinary circumstances," said another Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, invoking the criteria that the group had agreed would warrant a filibuster. "But you can't come to that conclusion until the end of the entire process."

The 14 senators, seven Democrats and seven Republicans, met for about an hour in the office of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and a member of their group. The meeting was their first since President Bush named Judge Roberts, who has served for two years on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as his Supreme Court choice.

The group discussed, but did not reach any conclusions on, various issues related to the confirmation, including whether Democrats should have access to legal memorandums written by Judge Roberts when he was in the office of the solicitor general, and what types of questions the nominee should be required to answer.

A dispute over access to documents could give rise to a filibuster, as it did when the Senate took up the nomination of Miguel Estrada to be an appeals court judge. Mr. Estrada eventually withdrew before being confirmed.

If there is a dispute, several members of the Gang of 14 said they hoped the group would intervene. "The group stands ready," said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, "if there's any rough sledding."

BBC NEWS | UK | London attackers 'meant to kill'

BBC NEWS | UK | London attackers 'meant to kill' London attackers 'meant to kill'
The people behind the latest attack in London meant to kill, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said.

But Sir Ian Blair said: "The important point is that the intention of the terrorists has failed."

Attempts were made to set off explosives at four locations, including three Tube stations and on one bus.

Mayor Ken Livingstone said it was not surprising London had been attacked a fortnight after 56 people died, adding: "We will get through this."

Police sources say the blasts may have been near simultaneous and that they are being linked with the 7 July bombs.

They say a number of fugitives are being sought. Two people have been arrested in Whitehall.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Africa | US fury as Sudan manhandles staff

BBC NEWS | Africa | US fury as Sudan manhandles staff US fury as Sudan manhandles staff
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has demanded and received an apology after US officials and journalists were manhandled by Sudanese security staff.

The incidents happened as Ms Rice met President Omar al-Beshir at his Khartoum residence.

Reporters and some US officials were initially prevented from entering the meeting room by security staff.

Those who then tried to ask questions about the troubled Darfur region of Sudan were forcibly removed.

Attempts were made to seize the tape recorder of at least one journalist.

Ms Rice is now visiting refugees in Darfur after the talks with Mr Bashir, and is due to hold discussions about sexual violence against women refugees.

She has urged the new government in Sudan to take more decisive action to end the violence.

At least 180,000 people have died and about two million people have been forced from their homes in the two-year conflict in Darfur, blamed mainly on the pro-government Janjaweed militias.

'Very angry'

Speaking after the incidents at the presidential palace, Ms Rice demanded an apology.

Please accept our apologies. This is not our policy
Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed

"It makes me very angry to be sitting with their president and have this happen," she told reporters.

"They had no right to manhandle my staff and the press."

State department spokesman Sean McCormack later said that Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail had telephoned Ms Rice "apologising for the treatment of our delegation and the press corps accompanying the secretary".

And Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed, head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, said: "Please accept our apologies. This is not our policy."

The BBC's Jonathan Beale, who is travelling with Ms Rice, says the row is very bad news for a new government which is trying to say that it is becoming more open and introducing press freedom.

'Genocide'

The US has described the violence in Darfur as genocide.

But Ms Rice said she hoped stability could be restored in Sudan following a peace accord in the separate conflict in the south and the creation of a new unity government.

She said she was willing to proclaim a "new day" with the new government, but added that she expected more decisive movement to end the crisis in Darfur.

"We don't rely on words, we rely on actions. We have gotten some help from the Sudanese government - but by no means enough," she said.

Ms Rice's visit to a Darfur refugee camp will coincide with the arrival of hundreds of Rwandan soldiers, who will join an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force.

On Wednesday, the head of the AU force said that security had improved in Darfur, with no major attacks since January and a decrease in low-level skirmishes.

But US aid official Andrew Natsios said: "The major reason for that, frankly, is there are not many villages left to burn down and destroy."

The United Nations estimates that 2,000 Sudanese villages have been completely or partially destroyed.

BBC NEWS | UK | London blasts cause chaos on Tube

BBC NEWS | UK | London blasts cause chaos on Tube London blasts cause chaos on Tube
A number of Tube stations have been evacuated and lines closed after minor blasts in what Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair says is a "serious incident".

Sir Ian appealed to Londoners to stay where they were and said the transport system was effectively being shut down.

The minor explosions - just two weeks after blasts killed 56 - involved detonators only, a BBC reporter said.

In addition, a blast was reported on the top deck of a Number 26 bus in Hackney Road in Bethnal Green.

There were no injuries and the bus suffered no structural damage.

Initial tests at Oval station revealed no traces of any chemical agent, police said.

Police said officers in protective clothing had been deployed to Warren Street to examine the scene.

Casualties 'low'

Large areas around Warren Street, Oval and the Shepherd's Bush Hammersmith and City line Tube stations have been cordoned off.

One person was injured at Warren Street. There were reports the injured person may have been holding a rucksack containing the detonator.

Sir Ian told reporters: "The casualty numbers appear to be very low in the explosions.

"The bombs appear to be smaller than on the last occasion but we don't know the implications of all this yet."

He appealed for witnesses with mobile phone pictures of any of the incidents to send them to www.police.uk.

The BBC's Andrew Winstanley said devices had been found but appeared to have been dummies, containing no explosives.

Lines suspended

Police said armed officers had been deployed to University College Hospital after an incident. A large area was cordoned off.

There were reports a memo had been circulated to staff to look out for a 6ft 2in black or Asian man with wires sticking out of his top.

The hospital has not received any casualties or been alerted to casualties.

A man was arrested near Downing Street by armed police and led away down Whitehall.

The whole of the Northern Line has been suspended, along with the Victoria Line, the Hammersmith and City line, Piccadilly and the Bakerloo line.

A number of other stations were closed including Great Portland Street, Westminster, Waterloo, St Paul's and Oxford Circus tube stations, as well as Waterloo tube station and King's Cross Thameslink.

Tony Blair cancelled events in the afternoon and attended a meeting of the Cobra committee along with Sir Ian. Whitehall was briefly closed down.

London Underground went to an amber alert with trains taken to the next station and evacuated.

An eyewitness at Oval station said there had been a small bang, and a man had then run off when the Tube reached the station.

A spokesman for Stagecoach said the driver of the number 26 bus travelling through Shoreditch had heard a bang on upper deck, gone upstairs and seen the windows were blown out.

The bus driver was very shaken but said to be fine.

At Shepherd's Bush Hammersmith and City line station, police told reporters that a man had threatened to blow himself up and then ran off.

Sosiane Mohellavi, 35, was travelling from Oxford Circus to Walthamstow when she was evacuated from a train at Warren Street.

"I was in the carriage and we smelt smoke - it was like something was burning. "Everyone was panicked and people were screaming. We had to pull the alarm. I am still shaking."

The BBC's Rory Barnett said there had been no smoke on the platform at Warren Street.

If you are in the areas concerned send us your comments using the form below.

China Says It Will No Longer Peg Its Currency to the U.S. Dollar - New York Times

China Says It Will No Longer Peg Its Currency to the U.S. Dollar - New York TimesJuly 21, 2005
China Says It Will No Longer Peg Its Currency to the U.S. Dollar
By REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China bowed to months of market and political pressure on Thursday by revaluing the yuan by 2.1 percent and abandoning the currency's decade-old peg against the dollar.

In a long-awaited move that it said would improve the running of the economy and give more play to market forces, the central bank said the yuan's value from now on would be linked to a basket of currencies of China's main trading partners.

Beijing had been under strong pressure from its trading partners, especially the United States, to abandon the yuan's peg of 8.28 per dollar, which they said undervalued the currency and handed Chinese exporters an unfair advantage on world markets.

The new rate, initially, will be 8.11 yuan per dollar, well short of the 10 percent revaluation that Washington had been seeking to head off protectionist pressure in Congress.

The central bank said the yuan, also known as the renminbi (RMB), would be allowed to move in a tight range of 0.3 percent up or down from the previous day's close in a continuation of the "managed float" policy in place 1994.

"The People's Bank of China will make adjustment of the RMB exchange rate band when necessary according to market development as well as the economic and financial situation," the central bank said in a statement in English on its web site.

"The RMB exchange rate will be more flexible based on market conditions with reference to a basket of currencies," it said.

In theory, a managed float leaves open the possibility of further incremental revaluations. But in practice China has kept the yuan virtually fixed; since early 1998 it has traded in a wafer-thin range near 8.28 per dollar.

"It was going to happen at some point. They have introduced a very modest appreciation to kick the whole thing off," said Ian Gunner, head of foreign exchange research at Mellon Financial Corp. in London.

The big question for dealers was whether China would make use of the flexibility to let the yuan drift gradually higher.

"It's just a gesture. The question now is whether there will be continuing speculation that China may revalue even more," said Ben Kwon, an analyst from KGI Asia in Hong Kong.

PRESSURE

China had long insisted that it would adopt a more flexible exchange rate system, but not until it was ready.

In March Premier Wen Jiabao impishly said the timing of a move would be a surprise and has since reacted testily to increasingly vocal calls for a shift, saying the question went to the heart of China's sovereignty.

Foreign pressure has been especially intense in the United States, where many law-makers blamed their country's $162 billion 2004 trade deficit with China on an unfairly cheap yuan.

Senators were preparing a bill that would have slapped a 27.5 percent tax on Chinese imports if Beijing did not revalue but last month delayed a vote on the measure after U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said it would be counterproductive.

Greenspan said a yuan revaluation would have minimal impact on the U.S. trade deficit but urged China to adopt a more flexible currency for its own sake.

Economists said the money from China's fast-growing trade surplus, on top of a flood of speculative money into China betting on a revaluation, was making it harder for China to manage its monetary policy.

To keep the yuan's exchange rate fixed, China was obliged to buy up huge quantities of dollars. Its foreign exchange reserves swelled to $711 billion at the end of June, the world's largest stockpile after Japan's. Much of the money has been invested in U.S. bonds, helping to keep U.S. interest rates low.

Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law - New York Times

Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law - New York Times The New York Times
July 21, 2005
Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law
By TODD S. PURDUM, JODI WILGOREN and PAM BELLUCK

This article was reported and written by Todd S. Purdum, Jodi Wilgoren and Pam Belluck.

WASHINGTON, July 20 - He is the son of a company man, and he has lived a loyalist's life. His teachers remember him as the brightest of boys, but his classmates say he never lorded it over them. He was always conservative, but not doctrinaire. He was raised and remains a practicing Roman Catholic who declines, friends say, to wear his faith on his sleeve.

And like his first judicial mentor, Henry J. Friendly of the federal appeals court in New York, John G. Roberts is an erudite, Harvard-trained, Republican corporate-lawyer-turned-judge, with a punctilious, pragmatic view of the law.

"I do not have an all-encompassing approach to constitutional interpretation; the appropriate approach depends to some degree on the specific provision at issue," Judge Roberts wrote in response to a written question during his 2003 confirmation to the federal appeals court in Washington. "Some provisions of the Constitution provide considerable guidance on how they should be construed; others are less precise.

"I would not hew to a particular 'school' of interpretation," he added, "but would follow the approach or approaches that seemed most suited in the particular case to correctly discerning the meaning of the provision at issue."

From his childhood as the son of a plant manager for Bethlehem Steel and a standout student through his career as a judge and lawyer for the government and private corporations, friends, colleagues and teachers say Judge Roberts has taken life one step - and one case - at a time.

Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal professor of constitutional law at Harvard, remembers Judge Roberts as a student there and has kept in touch with him over the years. He does not recall Judge Roberts as a political conservative when he studied there.

"He's conservative in manner and conservative in approach," Mr. Tribe said. "He's a person who is cautious and careful, that's true. But he is also someone quite deeply immersed in the law, and he loves it. He believes in it as a discipline and pursues it in principle and not by way of politics."

In his 2003 written testimony, Judge Roberts cited Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson and John Marshall among the Supreme Court judges he most admired. One was a Republican, three were Democrats and one was a Federalist, but all were deeply influential in their day, and all would make any law professor's short list of all-time greats.

Judge Roberts's friends say his approach to the rest of his life is similarly embracing.

"When I look at the people who were his friends, and who are his friends, there's not a political component to it that I can detect," said Charles E. Davidow, another law school classmate who roomed with him when they were both clerking, for separate judges, in New York.

"It's not as if his friends are all conservative, or all liberal, or all anything else. His friends are his friends, and he's not the kind of personality where conversations with him tend to turn political."

Judge Roberts is indisputably a Republican: He advised Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida during the 2000 presidential vote recount; gave $1,000 to George W. Bush that year; and contributed about $2,700 to various Republican candidates over the years. But he has given more - almost $7,500 - to his law firm's political action committee, which supports Democrats and Republicans in roughly equal measure.

In a law school class that included one current senator, Russell D. Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, and one former one, Spencer Abraham, a Republican from Michigan; at least two congressmen; and countless managing partners of the nation's leading law firms, Judge Roberts always stood out, but not apart. Though he earned more than $1 million a year by the time he left the blue-chip Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson to go on the bench two years ago, he often ate lunch in the firm cafeteria, chatting with co-workers and junior colleagues.

"There are partners who spend that kind of time, and there are partners who don't," said Patricia A. Brannan, a partner at Hogan. "He always made time."

Paul Mogin was a year behind Judge Roberts at Harvard Law School and his roommate there for two years. He followed Judge Roberts as Judge Friendly's clerk on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and chose him as the best man at his wedding.

"By temperament, he's not a flame-thrower, not somebody you'd expect to willingly or readily overrule a precedent," Mr. Mogin said. "He's somebody who has respect for institutions. I think institutions have been important to him in his life, like Harvard, the Catholic Church and the Supreme Court. He's not likely to be anybody to do anything too radical."

Early Thirst for Learning

As early as elementary school, John G. Roberts stood out as the smartest kid in class. He regularly scored 100's, took five years of Latin in four years of high school, had his essays read aloud as examples for his peers.

Dorothea Liddell, his eighth-grade math teacher at Notre Dame, a Catholic school in the small town of Long Beach, Ind., where Judge Roberts grew up, said she used young John as a barometer as she experimented with the unfamiliar curriculum known as New Math.

"If he understood the concept, I was good," Mrs. Liddell remembered Wednesday as she sat in one of the school's un-air-conditioned classrooms, reminiscing with several former students. "If not, teach it all over again."

Born in Buffalo, Judge Roberts arrived in Long Beach, a flag-bedecked town of 1,500 residents on the shore of Lake Michigan, around fourth grade with his parents when his father, John Sr., helped open the Bethlehem Steel mill in Burns Harbor, a half-hour's drive away. At first the family - John and his three sisters, Cathy, Peggy and Barbara - lived by the lake amid the summer cottages of wealthy families from Chicago, about 60 miles away. But in 1965, the family built a brown split-level house with five bedrooms on a quiet street a couple of blocks away.

Like other steel executives' children, John Roberts went to private school, first next door to his family's parish at Notre Dame, and then to an all-boys boarding school, La Lumiere, a bucolic retreat on a pond in nearby LaPorte.

Besides being an academic star, he was a scrappy athlete, a captain of the football team despite his mediocre play, and competed in wrestling and track. In a small school of about 125 students, John Roberts was also on the student council executive committee (he lost the race for senior class president to his best friend), the student activities committee, the editorial board of The Torch student newspaper and the drama club.

The school yearbook from 1972, his junior year, shows he played Peppermint Patty in the production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

He impressed almost everyone. Lawrence Sullivan, his high school math teacher, recalled on Wednesday, "It became very, very clear and evident when he first came here that he was a person who was destined to do big things."

A Gift of Persuasion

Though Judge Roberts at first aspired to be a history professor - a former roommate said he chose Harvard over Amherst intending to combine undergraduate work with a Ph.D. - he showed early signs of the skills that would serve him so well as a litigator.

"The English teacher used to talk about his papers after he had written them because they were outrageous but very well crafted," remembered John Langley, an emergency room doctor in New Orleans who was a class below Judge Roberts at La Lumiere. "He could take an argument that was borderline absurd and argue for it so well that you were almost at the point of having to accept his stance even though it was intuitively obvious that it was absurd."

Few people remember him or his parents having much interest in political activity, though Mr. Sullivan said "he had a conservative bent," in contrast to the faculty at La Lumiere.

Asked how her son became a solid conservative, Rosemary Roberts said, "I don't know, only God will know," but she said her son's views are shared by other family members.

The elder Robertses now live in a golf-course community in Ellicott City, Md., near Baltimore, and she recalled: "We were very concerned about the news and everything. We have always been a family that was interested in things other than ourselves."

In his senior year, in David Kirkby's Morals class, John Roberts went beyond a simple book-report assignment to pore through a dense set of seven philosophy tomes, then proceeded to hold forth for several class periods while some of his classmates struggled to fill a few minutes. "If bells hadn't rung to end the class, he could probably be still talking now, 32 years later," Mr. Kirkby said, laughing, on Wednesday.

Tenacity was a hallmark on the football field too.

"He wasn't that big, he wasn't that fast, but he wasn't bashful about butting his head against guys three times his size," said Bob MacLaverty, who beat John Roberts in that student council election, but remained close enough friends that they stood at each other's weddings.

John Roberts and John Langley worked summers at the Burns Harbor mill - on the floor, not in offices, like their fathers.

"They were down-and-dirty jobs, but they paid well, and the kids had to learn how to take a riding from the regular employees who were not going to college," recalled Mr. Langley's mother, Joan.

Beth Linnen, a former classmate at Notre Dame elementary school, still remembers John Roberts's nerdy glasses and winning smile. "If you said to me, 'Who was the smartest kid in your grade-school class?' I would have said, 'John Roberts,' " Ms. Linnen said. "Some kids who are smart are sort of geeky, but he just got along with everyone."

Andy McKenna, who is now chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, was two years behind Judge Roberts at La Lumiere, yet well aware of his academic legend.

"When he got things wrong, people thought there might be something wrong with the teacher, not with him, because he was so off the charts," Mr. McKenna said on Wednesday. "Not many people could keep up with him."

Years at Harvard

The same was true at Harvard College, where Judge Roberts graduated summa cum laude in 1976, and Harvard Law School, which he entered that fall.

Richard Lazarus, a law school friend, tells the story of a mutual friend, a fellow student who "made the mistake of joining John's study group first year." After two weeks, the friend was miserable.

"He thought he may well have made a serious mistake because he wasn't good enough," said Mr. Lazarus, now a law professor at Georgetown University. "Then he started studying with some other people and he thought, 'Wait a minute - I'm not the problem.' It was because he was studying with John."

Judge Roberts, said Mr. Lazarus, "worked all the time and held himself to high, high standards. One day, John was worrying that he hadn't done well on an exam. I said 'John, I'll bet you $25 you got at least an A-minus on the exam.' He wouldn't take the bet. It shows you what he was like. The rest of us would have been perfectly happy with the A-minus."

By all accounts, during his Harvard years, Judge Roberts excelled academically but also stood out for his even-tempered nature and his ability to engage with people with many different viewpoints. Many of his law school classmates were aware that Judge Roberts was somewhat conservative in outlook, but, they say, he was not politically active.

"He was, I would say, conservative in the old-fashioned sense, not the new modern sense," said Bill Kayatta, a lifelong Democrat who served on the law review with Judge Roberts. "He had a sort of thoughtful respect for institutions, history, precedent, a willingness to consider change but not revolutionary. He believed in having some humility about one's ability to suddenly decree that those who came before you were wrong, but he was not a stick in the mud either."

Mr. Kayatta added: "John and I probably spent several hundred hours debating every issue known to humankind, coming from very different perspectives on many issues. He's the type of person you could debate any issue with, and you could sometimes change his mind and sometimes he would change yours. He was brilliant, but modest, the latter being unusual at Harvard Law School. He was someone who's just soft-spoken and brilliant, but yet very interested in what other people had to say."

Young Conservative

By the time Judge Roberts got to the law school, the Cambridge campus was no longer the radicalized haven of liberalism it had been during the Vietnam War era, several former students said.

Representative John Barrow, Democrat of Georgia and a law school classmate, recalls those years as "almost a happy time between the activism of the 60's and the hostile time of the 80's," when the faculty was deeply divided over the curriculum and legal studies. Judge Roberts's views did not much stand out.

"He was more conservative than others," Mr. Barrow said, "but to be honest, I can't remember having any political discussions."

Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who worked on Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign as a first-year student, did not know his classmate that well. "I couldn't tell you whether he inhaled or didn't," he said. "I didn't hang out with the smart kids."

Don deAmicis, another classmate who is now a partner at Ropes and Gray in Boston, said the law school of that era could not be described as "a conservative institution, but I don't think that those who were more conservative felt alienated by the institution."

Indeed, Stephen Galebach, now a lawyer in Andover, Mass., arrived at the law school after a stint in the Marines, described himself as a "Reaganite conservative" and said: "I fit quite naturally. It's not like I took guff from people. People were interested in interesting things about people."

Mr. Galebach recalled that he was more politically outspoken than Judge Roberts ever was on campus. "From our time in law review, it wasn't like John was a gung-ho conservative," he said. "He wasn't active. He wasn't a gung-ho liberal on liberal causes. He was always more focused more on the craftsmanship" of the law.

Mr. Galebach said the fact that Judge Roberts's position at the law review was managing editor "tells a lot about John." He added: "Managing editor is the one who just makes sure everything is done to a high level of quality. It's the ultimate position of not injecting your own views, but allowing other people to reach high levels of scholarship."

Judge Roberts himself wrote two "notes" for the review, one on the Constitution's contracts clause and the other on the takings clause, but mostly edited the work of professors and legal scholars who contributed.

A Mentor in New York

After graduation, Judge Roberts went to clerk for Judge Friendly, the former presiding judge of the appeals court in New York who by then was winding down his long career but was still widely regarded as the pre-eminent appeals court judge of his era. Judge Friendly, too, had graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and Harvard Law School, where he had studied under Justice Frankfurter before clerking for Justice Brandeis on the Supreme Court.

Working for Justice Brandeis, Judge Friendly had helped with his famous dissent in Olmstead v. United States, in which Justice Brandeis argued that the government had violated a bootlegger's constitutional rights by wiretapping his telephone. In ringing language that decades later would help form the basis for a string of privacy rights rulings by the court, Justice Brandeis argued that the framers had "conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone - the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men."

After work as a lawyer for Pan American World Airways, Judge Friendly was appointed to the federal bench by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was sometimes frustrated by the liberal activism of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren. He was famous for writing his own opinions, which often found their way into casebooks, and asking his clerks not for written memos but for oral defenses of their ideas.

"He had a proper view of the limited role of judges," another former clerk, Robert Weiner, now a lawyer in Washington, said of Judge Friendly. "He had a guiding principle that when deciding a case, a judge should always think about how the ruling would be cited back at you in the next case. He wasn't going to vary his principles from case to case, just because he may have liked the facts differently. He often decided cases in ways he would have preferred not to."

Mr. Mogin said that Judge Friendly, who died in 1986, "had his favorite former clerks, and Roberts was always one of them."

Judge Roberts's next assignment was a clerkship for a more conservative judge, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, then an associate justice of the Supreme Court, before joining the Reagan administration as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith.

Mr. Lazarus, who roomed with Judge Roberts back then, said he was not apolitical. "During the 1980 presidential election, we were roommates and we had a presidential election party, and he had put an elephant on the TV and I put a donkey," Mr. Lazarus said.

But, he added, Judge Roberts "said to me a long time ago there was no case he had been on where he couldn't have done the other side."

In Washington

Judge Roberts later worked as an associate in the White House counsel's office in the Reagan administration before entering private practice at Hogan & Hartson in 1986, then returning to government service as principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, helping to argue its positions before the Supreme Court.

In both jobs, he took positions on behalf of clients that he has said should not necessarily be attributed to him, insisting in his confirmation hearing two years ago, "My practice has not been ideological in any sense. My clients and their positions are liberal and conservative across the board."

In private practice, he has represented some of the world's biggest automakers, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Mining Association.

But it is his work in the solicitor general's office that has drawn some of the sharpest early criticism from the liberal advocacy groups that are scrutinizing his comparatively limited public record.

In 1991, he signed a brief asking the court to lower the wall of separation between church and state.

The government had asked the Supreme Court to discard an earlier test and overturn a lower court ruling that held a clergyman could not give an official address at a junior high school graduation in Providence, R.I. It asked the court to rule that "civic acknowledgments of religion in public life do not offend the establishment clause" of the Constitution "as long as they neither threaten the establishment of an official religion nor coerce participation in religious activities."

At the time, officials in the first Bush administration told reporters that the reason for intervening was a tactical decision to try to draw out Justice David H. Souter, then the court's newest member, and get him on the side of the administration, which was hoping eventually to change the approach to religion in public settings.

In the end, the court voted 5 to 4 against the administration and upheld the lower court's decision. Among those in the majority were Justice Souter and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat Judge Roberts has been nominated to fill.

Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Wednesday that Judge Roberts's participation in the case makes him "unsuited for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court." He said that if confirmed to the court, Judge Roberts would "open the door to majority rule on religious matters."

Friends of Judge Roberts and his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, say they share a strong faith. "They are deeply religious," said Fred F. Fielding, the former White House counsel for President Reagan, "but they don't wear it on their sleeves at all."

The couple are members of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md., a Catholic congregation that includes about 1,500 families. Like many Washington-area churches, its members have included prominent political figures. Thomas O'Neill, the former speaker of the House known as Tip, as well as Edmund Muskie, the former United States senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate, once attended, said Gary R. Davies, a church deacon. More recently, L. Paul Bremer III, who served as the United States' administrator in Iraq, was a member.

The church, Mr. Davies said, is not particularly political, though it does organize two or so busloads of members each year to participate in an anti-abortion rally marking the Roe v. Wade decision. "I have never heard anyone talk about politics," Mr. Davies said. "It just does not belong."

Some who know Judge Roberts say he does not let his personal beliefs affect his legal views. "He's not going to allow political or theological interference with his opinions," said Mark Touhey, a partner in the Texas law firm of Vinson & Elkins.

Shannen W. Coffin, a friend of Judge Roberts and a former Justice Department lawyer, said: "John's faith is his faith, and his approach to the law is a separate issue. If it has any effect, it is in the sense of restraint, that he is not and the role of the judge is not to be the center of the universe. It stems from the sort of humility of a faithful person."

The Robertses frequently attend events at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass. Jane Roberts is a graduate of the school and has been a trustee for the last four years.

"They are devout Catholics," said the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, the college president. "They are not the kind of people who would be in your face," he added. Their religion "would affect their personal lives, but they are very professional in their work."

Mr. Coffin said that after the Robertses married nine years ago when they were both in their 40's, they tried to have children. After a several failed adoption efforts, he said, they "got lucky" with two children, Josephine and John, now 5 and 4.

In a sign of just how small the elite world of the Supreme Court bar and bench can be, the Robertses have attended Holy Cross events with Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia, according to Father McFarland. Justice Thomas is also an alumnus of Holy Cross and a trustee.

"I know they know each other," said Father McFarland, but he added he didn't know "how well." Both couples, the Holy Cross president said, know Msgr. Peter Vaghi, who married the Robertses in 1996 in Washington and now is the pastor at the Bethesda church where the Robertses worship.

Monsignor Vaghi serves as the chaplain of the John Carroll Society, a 51-year-old Washington-based charitable and social organization. Judge Roberts's wife is a member of the board of governors, as is Mary Ellen Bork, the wife of Judge Robert H. Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was bitterly opposed by Democrats and failed in 1987.

There is little in Judge Roberts's known record to suggest he could ever be so polarizing a figure.

In his confirmation testimony two years ago, he said that judges should be "ever mindful that they are insulated from democratic pressures precisely because the framers expected them to be discerning law, not shaping policy," and added: "That means that judges should not look to their own personal views or preferences in deciding the cases before them. Their commission is no license to impose their preferences from the bench."

That is not to say that Judge Roberts has a low opinion of his own persuasive powers, as a lawyer before the court or a justice on it. His friends note that he often recounts the story of losing a Supreme Court case with none of the justices ruling in his favor.

Unable to explain to his client why he had lost 9 to 0, he finally said, "Because there are only nine justices on the court."

Pam Belluck reported from Boston, and Jodi Wilgoren from Long Beach, Ind., for this article. Reporting was contributed by Jeff Gerth, Glen Justice, David D. Kirkpatrick, Neil A. Lewis and Eric Lipton from Washington; Gretchen Ruethling from Chicago; and David Staba from Buffalo; and Katie Zezima from Boston.

An Interview by, Not With, the President - New York Times

An Interview by, Not With, the President - New York TimesJuly 21, 2005
An Interview by, Not With, the President
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

WASHINGTON, July 20 - When President Bush sat down in the White House residence last Thursday to interview a potential Supreme Court nominee, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he asked him about the hardest decision he had ever made - and also how much he exercised.

"Well, I told him I ran three and a half miles a day," Judge Wilkinson recalled in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "And I said my doctor recommends a lot of cross-training, but I said I didn't want to do the elliptical and the bike and the treadmill." The president, Judge Wilkinson said, "took umbrage at that," and told his potential nominee that he should do the cross-training his doctor suggested.

"He thought I was well on my way to busting my knees," said Judge Wilkinson, 60. "He warned me of impending doom."

Judge Wilkinson's conversation with the president about exercise and other personal matters in an interview for a job on the highest court in the land was typical of how Mr. Bush went about picking his eventual nominee, Judge John G. Roberts, White House officials and Republicans said. Mr. Bush, they said, looked extensively into the backgrounds of the five finalists he interviewed, but in the end relied as much on chemistry and intuition as on policy and legal intellect.

"He likes to have the info, he likes to have the background, but he also is a field player," said Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president, in a briefing to reporters on Tuesday night. "He likes to size people up himself, make his own judgment."

White House officials and Republicans said Mr. Bush, who prides himself on his instincts about people, had clicked with Judge Roberts and what a friend calls his Midwestern "regular guy" demeanor in an hourlong interview in the White House on Friday, the day after the president met in the same setting with Judge Wilkinson. But Mr. Bush was particularly impressed, Mr. Bartlett said, with the judge's "impeccable credentials" from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and his record of arguing 39 cases before the Supreme Court.

Equally important, Republicans close to the White House said, Mr. Bush knew that Judge Roberts was acceptable to conservatives but came with such a sterling résumé and ties to Washington's establishment that Democrats would find it hard to go on the attack. "For the last 15 years, he's been in the talent pool for where you start to look for a Supreme Court nominee," said C. Boyden Gray, the White House counsel to Mr. Bush's father and the chairman of the Committee for Justice, an organization he formed three years ago to lobby for the president's judicial nominees.

Mr. Bush also conducted an additional interview on Friday and two on Saturday. Republicans close to the administration said they thought the interviews were with three other federal appellate judges: Edith Brown Clement, Edith H. Jones and J. Michael Luttig. White House officials would not disclose the names of the also-rans, but Mr. Bartlett told reporters that Mr. Bush's interviews had included women.

As is Mr. Bush's style, the interviews he conducted with Judge Roberts and Judge Wilkinson focused heavily on the upbringing of the two men. "He wanted to know about his personal life and about where he came from," Mr. Bartlett said of Mr. Bush's interview with Judge Roberts, noting that the judge had been president of his high school class and also captain of the football team.

Judge Wilkinson said he was not asked about his views on issues like abortion or even a particular legal case in his interview with Mr. Bush as well as in interviews with others on the White House staff; he would not say if he had talked to Vice President Dick Cheney. "I wasn't crowded in any way," Judge Wilkinson said. "There was no litmus test applied." Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said in a briefing on Wednesday that neither Mr. Bush nor White House staff members asked any of the finalists about their positions on issues.

Neither Judge Wilkinson nor any one at the White House would shed light on Wednesday on why Mr. Bush had not selected a woman for the job, particularly after his wife, Laura Bush, had said that was her wish. The first lady's comments were interpreted by Republicans as a reflection of Mr. Bush's thinking, which fed a daylong frenzy of rumors on Tuesday that Judge Clement in New Orleans was the president's pick. A woman who answered the phone in Judge Clements' chambers on Wednesday would only say that the judge was not available, then hung up.

But retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor quickly weighed in on the president's nomination for her replacement, calling Judge Roberts "good in every way, except he's not a woman." Justice O'Connor made the comments in an interview on Tuesday after a fly-fishing trip with the outdoor editor of The Spokane Spokesman-Review, where she was also quoted as saying that she was almost sure Mr. Bush would not appoint a woman to replace William H. Rehnquist because she did not think he would want a woman as chief justice.

"So that almost assures that there won't be a woman appointed to the court at this time," Justice O'Connor said.

Former Senator John Breaux, a centrist Democrat from Louisiana, the home state of Judge Clement, said the rumors got so out of hand on Tuesday that people in New Orleans informed him that Judge Clement was on a plane bound for Washington, with her next stop presumably the White House.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Breaux speculated that Judge Clement might never have been a real candidate. "Maybe they were all along working on Roberts and they misled everybody," Mr. Breaux said. Mr. McClellan, the White House press secretary, countered later on Wednesday that the administration had never sent out signals that Judge Clement was the pick.

What is clear is that Mr. Bush made up his mind only hours before he called Judge Roberts on Tuesday at 12:35 p.m. to offer him the job. He told only a handful of people before he picked up the phone, an administration official said, and asked them to tell no one else. Only after the call was made did Mr. Bush inform the other senior members of the White House staff.

By 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, as Mr. Bush was informing important members of the Senate before his 9 p.m. televised announcement, Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, was calling key conservatives to tell them that Judge Roberts was the pick. One of Mr. Rove's first calls was a conference call with Mr. Gray; Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society and the head of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party; Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, an evangelical group; and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III of the Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Sekulow and Mr. Leo were part of an outreach team of lawyers assembled by the White House to push Mr. Roberts with conservative groups. Both said on Wednesday that they had known Judge Roberts for years and attested to his conservatism with others in the movement.

Judge Wilkinson said on Wednesday that Mr. Bush had given him an extensive tour of the family quarters of the White House, including the Lincoln bedroom and a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address. "He just could not have been more gracious," he said.

Judge Wilkinson said he could offer no insight into how the president made the decision that he did, but he did say that "I was given a good shot, and you just can't find a better person or a better judge than John Roberts."

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting for this article.

heraldsun.com: BEIJING--China says it is no longer...

heraldsun.com: BEIJING--China says it is no longer...BEIJING--China says it is no longer pegging its currency to the U.S. dollar.

Jul 21, 2005 : 7:09 am ET

BEIJING -- China says it is no longer pegging its currency to the U.S. dollar.

Going To Atlanta? @ Dave's iPAQ

Going To Atlanta? @ Dave's iPAQ SITA INC Wi-Fi Solution To Ensure Internet Access and Mobile Phone Use Throughout Busiest Airport

SITA INC (Information Networking Computing) today announced details of a $5.4M multi-faceted contract for wireless and management services for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport - ranked the busiest airport in the world. The contract was signed by the City of Atlanta's Department of Aviation (DOA) and the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin.

"This solution will improve the passenger experience at Atlanta Airport by allowing travellers to access the Internet and use of their mobile phones anywhere in the airport," said Atlanta airport General Manager Ben DeCosta. "Passengers travelling through the Atlanta airport can stay in touch via Wi-Fi from the front door of the airport, to the underground transportation mall, to every gate at every concourse. Our passengers will have the benefit of this new service this fall, and we are very excited for the launch."

SITA's solution for Atlanta includes the design and implementation of an airport-wide Wi-Fi and mobile wireless network, as well as management of the airport's new fibre, mobile and Wi-Fi network for a period of one year.

The total solution for Hartsfield-Jackson Airport covers three main areas:

1) A Wi-Fi system for the entire airport that provides Internet access for all passengers. Internet access will be via a "neutral host" allowing the passengers the flexibility to choose their own Wireless Internet Service Provider. The wireless system will support data services, as well as voice and video. This secure system is also designed for use by the City of Atlanta DOA, the airlines, and airport tenants.

2) A distributed antenna system that provides passengers with high quality mobile phone coverage throughout the airport and transportation mall, regardless of the mobile phone carrier.

3) A fully managed network operation centre with Department of Aviation (airport) and SITA staff on site to provide ongoing operation, security and maintenance of the airport's fibre network and the wireless network.

"We are extremely pleased to offer the first truly neutral host system in an airport to visitors of Hartsfield-Jackson, in the same city as our global business unit and North American headquarters," said Senior Vice President of Airport and Desktop Services, John Jarrell. "This shared infrastructure improves the passenger experience by making Wi-Fi available to passengers as well as airport and airline employees, with a neutral host offering great flexibility."

This project is presently in the implementation phase and will be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2005.


About SITA

SITA INC

SITA INC (Information Networking Computing) is the world's leading provider of air transport- focused applications, communications and IT infrastructure, enabling its customers to realize greater operational efficiencies and enhanced profitability. Building on a heritage of innovation, the company provides services to air transport customers and to related industries, as well as government authorities, offering a unique portfolio of solutions. SITA INC is registered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and recorded revenues of $642 million in 2004.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CNN.com - U.S.: China looking beyond Taiwan - Jul 19, 2005

CNN.com - U.S.: China looking beyond Taiwan - Jul 19, 2005U.S.: China looking beyond Taiwan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- China cannot be certain that its military, while steadily strengthening, is capable of conquering Taiwan, the Pentagon said Tuesday in a new report on Chinese military power and strategy.

Over the longer term, however, an increasingly modernizing Chinese military could pose a threat to U.S. and other forces in the Asia-Pacific region, it said.

"Some of China's military planners are surveying the strategic landscape beyond Taiwan," the report said.

Among a number of such developments, it noted improvements in Chinese intercontinental-range missiles "capable of striking targets across the globe, including the United States."

Air and naval force improvements also appear to be geared for operations beyond the geography around Taiwan, an island less than 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the Chinese coast, it added.

Fueled by a booming economy and foreign arms purchases, China's military is developing new capabilities in line with Beijing's strategy of deterring Taiwan from declaring its independence and countering a potential U.S. military intervention, according to the 45-page report, an annual assessment required by Congress.

The short-term focus of China's military was to prepare for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, the report said.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to invade if the self-governing island declares formal independence or resists Beijing's insistence on negotiating reunification. The United States, Taiwan's main arms supplier, has cautioned both countries not to force a change in the status quo.

Kurt Campbell, a senior Asia specialist at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, said in an interview that the report was "slightly more alarmist" than previous Pentagon assessments of China's military.

He noted that the report focused on a number of new Chinese capabilities, including a naval buildup.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday, before the report was released, that it would illustrate why a European arms embargo against the Chinese should be kept in place.

Some members of the European Union, including France, have sought to end the embargo, which was imposed after the Chinese military crushed student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

It "clearly points up the reason that the president and the United States government have been urging the EU to not lift the arms embargo on the People's Republic of China," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.

At the White House, President George W. Bush said at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard that the United States had a relationship with China that was "very important and very vibrant. It's a good relationship, but it's a complex relationship."

Bush said the United States and Australia "can work together to reinforce the need for China to accept certain values as universal: the value of minority rights, the value of freedom for people to speak, the value of freedom of religion -- the same values we share."

The House, while debating a State Department bill Tuesday, accepted without dissent an amendment to approve sanctions to deter foreign companies and nations, particularly in Europe, from selling arms to China.

The House defeated a similar bill last week, but changes were made to reassure American defense contractors that they would not be subject to penalties unless they knowingly should transfer technologies that could potentially have military applications.

The new assessment of China's military said reasons existed to believe that China would not take military action against Taiwan.

"It does not yet possess the military capability to accomplish with confidence its political objectives on the island, particularly when confronted with outside intervention," it said.

Chinese leaders also believed that attacking Taiwan would severely retard China's economic development and lead to instability on the mainland.

Rumsfeld said China was at a strategic crossroad.

"As I see it, China is on a path where they are determined to increase their economy, the opportunities for their people, and to enter the world community," Rumsfeld said.

He said the Chinese had been doing "a number of things to leave the world with the impression that they are a good place for investment."

China needed to be more open, politically as well as economically, Rumsfeld said, in order to be seen internationally as a more welcome partner.

"To the extent the political system does not (open up), it will inhibit the growth of their economy and ultimately the growth of their military capabilities," he said.

Chevron Gets the Nod!Unocal Rejects Chinese Take-Over

Chevron Gets the Nod!Unocal Rejects Chinese Take-OverChevron Gets the Nod!Unocal Rejects Chinese Take-Over

Decision squashes a higher-valued bid from China's state-owned CNOOC

EL SEGUNDO - 07/21/05 - California-based oil giant Unocal has rebuffed an $18.5 billion takeover offer from China's state-owned CNOOC with the provisional approval of an "improved" $17.1-billion-dollar acquisition offer from US-based Chevron.

Unocal, the ninth-largest US oil company, and Chevron jointly announced the proposed merger, which will be submitted August 10 to a vote by Unocal shareholders.

"The Unocal Board of Directors recommends that Unocal stockholders vote in favor of adopting the Chevron merger agreement, as amended," the companies said this morning in their joint statement.

Unocal had already agreed a merger with Chevron in April when it received the rival CNOOC bid.

According to press reports, Chevron's "improved" offer reportedly consists of 40% cash and 60% stock, with the company paying about $7.5 billion in cash and issuing about 168 million shares.

The deal also would also give Unocal shareholders three options for each share held - to receive 0.69 dollars in cash; 1.03 shares of Chevron common stock; or a combination of $27.60 in cash and 0.618 of a share of Chevron common stock.

The CNOOC bid had set off a politically-charged controversy in the US with some lawmakers and a number of private-sector groups raising concerns about a major US firm being acquired, in effect, by the Chinese government.

The US has a mechanism to investigate international efforts to purchase American companies and can block those that as seen as a threat to national security.

Earlier this week, the Bush Administration told the Washington File that it would have been "premature to hold a formal review" of a Chinese oil company's bid for the California-based oil company Unocal.

"There is a process that our government uses to analyze such purchases or intent to purchase. And it's best that I allow that process to move forward without comment," President Bush said at a recent White House press conference covered by the Washington File.

According to media reports, CNOOC's Chief Executive Fu Chengyu had permission from the company's board to raise the bid to $19 billion, but it's know unclear whether CNOOC will up the ante.

Last week he offered to set aside $2.5 billion to cover Unocal against any shareholder lawsuits should a sale to CNOOC fail and depress Unocal's stock price.

CNOOC is one of three state-owned oil companies created by the Chinese government to acquire offshore oil reserves.

Established in 1982 as a joint venture partner with non-Chinese companies exploring such resources, CNOOC is 70%-owned by the Chinese government.

Although CNOOC is only valued at $22 billion, the company was able to make its offer of $18.5 billion for Unocal because of financial support from the Chinese government.

China's State Council, had approved the effort to purchase Unocal with the Governor of China's State Central Bank helping assemble the financial purchase package.

CNOOC's parent company, which is entirely owned by the Chinese government, had provided CNOOC with $7 billion toward the Unocal purchase.

Approval of any CNOOC deal with China would have required a review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US (CFIUS), a multi-agency panel chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, to determine whether a US company's acquisition by another country could pose a national security threat.

"CFIUS is there to review foreign investments in the United States. If the conditions triggering that process are met, then certainly we will proceed," said Treasury Secretary John Snow.

On July 1, CNOOC had asked Washington to begin the necessary review process in order to boost Unocal shareholders' confidence in its bid, but Snow has said CFIUS would have reviewed the deal only if the CNOOC's bid had been accepted by Unocal.

A CFIUS review would have taken up to 90 days once it began.

CFIUS - established by Executive Order 11858 in 1975 - originally limited its activities to monitoring and evaluating the impact of foreign investment in the US, but its responsibilities have expanded over time.

The Exon-Florio Amendment to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 expanded CFIUS's mandate to include not only the investigation but also the suspension or prohibition of mergers or acquisitions that "threaten to impair" US national security.

The CFIUS process begins with a 30-day review period. If the committee approves a particular transaction during that time, it will not perform any further investigation, and if CFIUS does not approve the transaction after this initial review period, it will commence a 45-day investigation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the committee must provide the president with a recommendation, and the president will then have 15 days to approve or prohibit the transaction.

Parties to a transaction may withdraw their submission at any time before a final decision.

The committee reviewed 320 transactions from 1997 through 2001 and conducted formal investigation of just four, according to a September 2002 report by Congress's Government Accounting Office.

Three of the deals that proceeded to the investigative phase eventually were cancelled.

In 2003, Global Crossing Ltd. was forced to abandon a planned sale of its telecommunications network to Hutchison-Whampoa Ltd., a Hong Kong-based group.

The US Defense Department and others on the CFIUS refused to approve the transaction on national security grounds.

However, there is also precedent for CFIUS approval of Chinese acquisition of a US defense company.

In 1995, CFIUS approved a takeover of Magnequench Inc., an Indianapolis, Indiana-headquartered company that supplies sophisticated magnets used in a variety of precision-guided munitions, by Beijing San Huan New Material High-Tech Inc., the China National Non-Ferrous Metals Import & Export Corp., and an investment group led by the Sextant Group Inc.

In 2003, the company's Chinese owners shut down Magnequench's production plant in Anderson, Indiana, and consolidated its production of magnetic powders at a facility in Tianjin, China.

Shortly afterwards, the company opened a magnet production facility in Juarez, Mexico.

Several members of the US House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee specifically cited the Magnequench deal asserting that an acquisition of Unocal by CNOOC would give Beijing access to a strategically vital asset.

The US lawmakers' move drew an outcry from the Chinese government, which condemned the lawmakers' initiative as political interference in what it insisted was a strictly business deal.

Unocal employs about 6,000 people worldwide, mainly in North America and Asia. Most of its oil and gas assets are in Asia, notably in Thailand and Indonesia.

Last year, the company posted a net profit of $1.2 billion on sales of $8 billion last year with suitor Chevron reported a net profit of $13.3 billion on sales of $155.3 billion.

Greenspan Warns China Of 'Serious' Threats - Forbes.com

Greenspan Warns China Of 'Serious' Threats - Forbes.comFaces In The News
Greenspan Warns China Of 'Serious' Threats
Greg Levine, 07.20.05, 4:40 PM ET



Chinese roulette? Alan Greenspan had some strong words for Beijing Wednesday. Speaking to the House Financial Services Committee, he said the teeming Asian nation faces "very serious" dangers to its economy if it persists in holding its currency's value down. The U.S. Federal Reserve chairman explicated his view, saying that China's financial engineering required amassing "very large" amounts of U.S. Treasury securities. He maintained, "Unless they sterilize that very substantial inflow, they create significant distortions in their financial system and ultimately could be very serious for the Chinese economy."

However, the Fed chief reiterated his view that the U.S. ought not to impose tariffs as a means of forcing China to revalue the yuan. He argued that such force was unlikely to lead to an increase in U.S. employment and could have unintended consequences. "Anything that we do which restricts world globalization, at the end of the day rebounds to our disadvantage," Greenspan was quoted as saying in various reports.

On the home front, the chairman cautioned, "The significant rise in purchases of homes for investment since 2001 seems to have charged some regional markets with speculative fever." As scrutiny of mortgage giants Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE - news - people ) intensifies, Greenspan opined that greater use of such instruments as interest-only mortgages were of "particular concern." He said these types of mortgages left home buyers "vulnerable to adverse events" if home prices begin to fall. The chairman called for the Fed to continue gradual interest-rate increases. More...

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Star Trek's Scotty dies aged 85

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Star Trek's Scotty dies aged 85 Star Trek's Scotty dies aged 85
Actor James Doohan, who played the chief engineer Montgomery Scott in Star Trek, has died at the age of 85.

Doohan, whose role was immortalised in the line "Beam me up, Scotty", had been suffering from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, his agent said.

His wife of 28 years, Wende, was by his side, Steve Stevens added.

Doohan was a popular character actor when he auditioned for the part in 1966. When the series ended in 1969, he found himself typecast in the role.

The Canadian-born actor was a master of dialect, developed during his years on radio.

When asked what accent he thought his Star Trek character should have, he said: "I believed the Scot voice was the most commanding."

'Go with the flow'

Doohan's character Scotty manned the Star Trek enterprise with Captain James T Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Mr Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy.

They starred together for three seasons before US network NBC cancelled it because of weak ratings.

But the team was reassembled when the franchise hit the big screen. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in cinemas in 1979.

Doohan appeared in seven big screen episodes of Star Trek, and continued to voice the franchise's video games into the late 1990s.

Initially he was concerned about being typecast as Scotty.


HAVE YOUR SAY
May you continue to boldly go where no man has gone before
Joe Doody, Glasgow

In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow.

"I took his advice and since then everything's been just lovely."

He came to embrace his Scotty character and attended Star Trek fan conventions into his 80s, before falling ill.

Doohan became a father again at the age of 80, when his wife Wende gave birth to daughter Sarah.

His last public appearance was in October 2004 when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.