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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Japan Today - News - U.S. won't let N. Korea have peaceful nuclear capabilities - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. won't let N. Korea have peaceful nuclear capabilities - Japan's Leading International News NetworkU.S. won't let N. Korea have peaceful nuclear capabilities

Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 18:59 JST
WASHINGTON — The United States has no intention of allowing North Korea to possess even civilian nuclear capabilities for peaceful use, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.

McCormack made the comments in clarifying remarks made overnight by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, the chief delegate to the ongoing six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions in Beijing. (Kyodo News)
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Is this a realistic approach? The Bush administration as really bungled its North Korea policy. They came into office ridiculing the Clinton engagement policy with North Korea niavely believing that they couldsuccessfullyy isolate and intimidate North Korea into submission. This misguided policy has resulted in North Korea producing six to nine nuclear weapons.

John H. Armwood

Ruling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property - New York Times

Ruling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property - New York TimesRuling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property
By TIMOTHY EGAN

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - More than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that governments could take one person's property and give it to another in the name of public interest, the decision has set off a storm of legislative action and protest, as states have moved to protect homes and businesses from the expanded reach of eminent domain.

In California and Texas, legislators have proposed constitutional amendments, while at least a dozen other states and some cities are floating similar changes designed to rein in the power to take property.

But at the same time, the ruling has emboldened some cities to take property for development plans on private land. Here in Santa Cruz, for example, city officials started legal action this month to seize a parcel of family-owned land that holds a restaurant with a high Zagat rating, two other businesses and a conspicuous hole in the ground and force a sale to a developer who plans to build 54 condominiums.

Far from clarifying government's ability to take private property, the 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision has set up a summer of scrutiny over a power that has been regularly used but little-discussed for decades.

"The intense reaction - this backlash - has caught a lot of people off guard," said Larry Morandi, who tracks land use developments for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Connecticut, where the court case originated, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, has likened the reaction to the Boston Tea Party and called for a moratorium on land takings until the legislature can revisit the law.

California's proposal would prohibit the use of eminent domain, a process in which governments force a sale of someone's property, in cases like Santa Cruz's.

"This decision opens a new era when the rich and powerful can use government to seize the property of ordinary citizens for private gain," said State Senator Tom McClintock, a Republican who proposed the amendment.

In Congress, liberals like Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, have joined conservatives like Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, in criticizing the ruling. The House voted 365 to 33 to pass a resolution condemning the decision, and proposals in both the House and the Senate would prevent the federal government from using eminent domain for private development, as well as local governments using federal money on such projects.

The Fifth Amendment allows the taking of land for "public use" with "just compensation," and governments have long used the practice to build roads and schools and to allow utilities to run service lines. In its June 23 ruling regarding efforts by the City of New London, Conn., to condemn homes in an old part of town to make way for a private development, the Supreme Court said public use could mean something that brings a public benefit - like jobs or increased tax revenue.

But at the same time, the court invited states to tailor their own laws. While only one state, Delaware, has changed its law, most states are likely to have a proposed change by next year, Mr. Morandi said.

"The initial outcry after the court case was: Nobody's house is safe, we've got to do something now," he said. "But as more states take a look at this they will respond in some form, but they won't want to take away a valuable tool."

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry added the issue to a special legislative session initially called for education. Both houses passed bills limiting eminent domain with some exceptions, including one allowing the City of Arlington to condemn homes for a new Dallas Cowboys football stadium, a project already under way. The two versions of the bills were not reconciled before the session ended.

But some cities view the ruling as blessing their redevelopment plans; Arlington filed condemnation lawsuits against some holdout property owners this month. Officials in Sunset Hills, Mo., outside St. Louis, voted to condemn a cluster of homes to make way for a shopping center, despite the pleas of some elderly homeowners who said they had nowhere else to go and no desire to move. Officials in Oakland, Calif., evicted a tire shop and an auto repair shop to make room for a development that is part of Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to bring 10,000 residents to the central part of the city.

In Santa Cruz, the plans pit one family against the city's long effort to redevelop a downtown hit by the 1989 earthquake. With the Supreme Court's ruling, city officials here said they felt free to seize a 20,000-square-foot lot they considered a blight.

To the city, the lot owned by the Lau family is a drag on other businesses, because the hole, left by the earthquake, has never been redeveloped. To the family, the seizure is legalized theft and shows how the court decision can be used to take anyone's property under the broad rubric of public use.

"My family has owned this land for 36 years," said Eric Lau, who laid bricks to shore up the building that would become his thriving restaurant, which is adjacent to the hole. "And now they're trying to erase us from this place, to take it and say we don't have any choice."

The ruling has struck a chord; in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month, the legal issue that Americans said most concerned them was "private property rights," ahead of parental notification for minors' abortions or the right-to-die debate.

Property rights groups have united with more liberal organizations in arguing that taking property for economic use usually favors the rich over the poor.

"Typically, you have these corporate lobbyists who go down to a city council and say, 'Take this person's property and we'll build you a shopping center,' " said Timothy Sandefur, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning legal group that helped draft the proposed California amendment.

Opponents of the Supreme Court decision also point to San Diego, where Ahmed Mesdaq lost his prosperous cigar and coffee shop in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter to a hotel project, which the city said would bring more tax revenue.

Many city officials say eminent domain is crucial for creating jobs, expanding tax bases and keeping their communities economically viable.

"Redevelopment is sometimes the only tool a community has to jump-start revitalization of downtrodden, blighted communities," officials at the California League of Cities wrote in a response to the proposed amendment.

Mayor Brown of Oakland said it was inevitable that some small businesses would have to be relocated, and he urged caution in any efforts to pass laws. "I understand the horror of urban renewal," he said. "But you don't want to take away a tool that a city has to reform itself. If you did, Oakland would suffer greatly."

During the 1970's, the Lau property, with its bookstore and cafe in the pre-Starbucks age, was a central hangout in funky Santa Cruz, neighbors say. Eric Lau watched his father's bookstore come to life and then die in the Loma Prieta earthquake, which destroyed the building.

The family's restaurant, Oswald, would not be considered blight by many standards. There is ivy on the outside walls, art on the inside, and the tables are covered with fresh-pressed linen. The restaurant is packed on most nights, neighbors say. And it has consistently been voted one of the best places to dine in Santa Cruz, a beach town of 54,000 people south of San Jose, known for its university and the carpet of redwoods on its fog-shrouded hills.

Ron Lau, who is 69, has long tried to build something on the undeveloped part of the property - the hole in the ground. The problem, city officials say, is that Mr. Lau has proposed hard-to-build, idealistic plans, involving alternative energy sources and unusual designs, that have never gotten off the ground, angering some nearby property owners.

"We do not use eminent domain frivolously," said Ceil Cirillo, executive director of the Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency. "I feel we have been very fair and very patient."

Taking the Lau property would serve the public good, Ms. Cirillo said, "because there is a hole in the center of our retail district."

Eric Lau and his sister Lani say the city is taking their property simply because their father took so much time to try to build something unusual.

"My dad was hellbent on getting his dream project built, nothing less, and that has been his biggest weakness," Eric Lau said.

The city agency has offered the family $1.6 million for the property, and the Laus plan to fight it. It is unclear whether the amendment would protect the Laus, but they hope to hang on to the property long enough to find out. A vote on the amendment would come no sooner than next June, legislative leaders say.

Meanwhile, the Laus say they are willing to modify their plans and build something close to what the city has agreed to with a developer.

But city officials say that they have run out of patience and that it is too late for the Laus to come up with new designs. They have an exclusive agreement, Ms. Cirillo said, with a developer, Bolton Hill, to take over the property and build on it.

"The project is moving forward," Ms. Cirillo said. "The Supreme Court gave us reassurance of our ability to proceed."

As for Laus and their restaurant, Ms. Cirillo said there might still be a place for them in the new development - after they sell out.

"Ideally, we would like to see them relocated in some way to the project," she said.

Senate Approves Bill Protecting Gun Businesses - New York Times

Senate Approves Bill Protecting Gun Businesses - New York TimesRuling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property
By TIMOTHY EGAN

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - More than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that governments could take one person's property and give it to another in the name of public interest, the decision has set off a storm of legislative action and protest, as states have moved to protect homes and businesses from the expanded reach of eminent domain.

In California and Texas, legislators have proposed constitutional amendments, while at least a dozen other states and some cities are floating similar changes designed to rein in the power to take property.

But at the same time, the ruling has emboldened some cities to take property for development plans on private land. Here in Santa Cruz, for example, city officials started legal action this month to seize a parcel of family-owned land that holds a restaurant with a high Zagat rating, two other businesses and a conspicuous hole in the ground and force a sale to a developer who plans to build 54 condominiums.

Far from clarifying government's ability to take private property, the 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision has set up a summer of scrutiny over a power that has been regularly used but little-discussed for decades.

"The intense reaction - this backlash - has caught a lot of people off guard," said Larry Morandi, who tracks land use developments for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Connecticut, where the court case originated, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, has likened the reaction to the Boston Tea Party and called for a moratorium on land takings until the legislature can revisit the law.

California's proposal would prohibit the use of eminent domain, a process in which governments force a sale of someone's property, in cases like Santa Cruz's.

"This decision opens a new era when the rich and powerful can use government to seize the property of ordinary citizens for private gain," said State Senator Tom McClintock, a Republican who proposed the amendment.

In Congress, liberals like Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, have joined conservatives like Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, in criticizing the ruling. The House voted 365 to 33 to pass a resolution condemning the decision, and proposals in both the House and the Senate would prevent the federal government from using eminent domain for private development, as well as local governments using federal money on such projects.

The Fifth Amendment allows the taking of land for "public use" with "just compensation," and governments have long used the practice to build roads and schools and to allow utilities to run service lines. In its June 23 ruling regarding efforts by the City of New London, Conn., to condemn homes in an old part of town to make way for a private development, the Supreme Court said public use could mean something that brings a public benefit - like jobs or increased tax revenue.

But at the same time, the court invited states to tailor their own laws. While only one state, Delaware, has changed its law, most states are likely to have a proposed change by next year, Mr. Morandi said.

"The initial outcry after the court case was: Nobody's house is safe, we've got to do something now," he said. "But as more states take a look at this they will respond in some form, but they won't want to take away a valuable tool."

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry added the issue to a special legislative session initially called for education. Both houses passed bills limiting eminent domain with some exceptions, including one allowing the City of Arlington to condemn homes for a new Dallas Cowboys football stadium, a project already under way. The two versions of the bills were not reconciled before the session ended.

But some cities view the ruling as blessing their redevelopment plans; Arlington filed condemnation lawsuits against some holdout property owners this month. Officials in Sunset Hills, Mo., outside St. Louis, voted to condemn a cluster of homes to make way for a shopping center, despite the pleas of some elderly homeowners who said they had nowhere else to go and no desire to move. Officials in Oakland, Calif., evicted a tire shop and an auto repair shop to make room for a development that is part of Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to bring 10,000 residents to the central part of the city.

In Santa Cruz, the plans pit one family against the city's long effort to redevelop a downtown hit by the 1989 earthquake. With the Supreme Court's ruling, city officials here said they felt free to seize a 20,000-square-foot lot they considered a blight.

To the city, the lot owned by the Lau family is a drag on other businesses, because the hole, left by the earthquake, has never been redeveloped. To the family, the seizure is legalized theft and shows how the court decision can be used to take anyone's property under the broad rubric of public use.

"My family has owned this land for 36 years," said Eric Lau, who laid bricks to shore up the building that would become his thriving restaurant, which is adjacent to the hole. "And now they're trying to erase us from this place, to take it and say we don't have any choice."

The ruling has struck a chord; in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month, the legal issue that Americans said most concerned them was "private property rights," ahead of parental notification for minors' abortions or the right-to-die debate.

Property rights groups have united with more liberal organizations in arguing that taking property for economic use usually favors the rich over the poor.

"Typically, you have these corporate lobbyists who go down to a city council and say, 'Take this person's property and we'll build you a shopping center,' " said Timothy Sandefur, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning legal group that helped draft the proposed California amendment.

Opponents of the Supreme Court decision also point to San Diego, where Ahmed Mesdaq lost his prosperous cigar and coffee shop in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter to a hotel project, which the city said would bring more tax revenue.

Many city officials say eminent domain is crucial for creating jobs, expanding tax bases and keeping their communities economically viable.

"Redevelopment is sometimes the only tool a community has to jump-start revitalization of downtrodden, blighted communities," officials at the California League of Cities wrote in a response to the proposed amendment.

Mayor Brown of Oakland said it was inevitable that some small businesses would have to be relocated, and he urged caution in any efforts to pass laws. "I understand the horror of urban renewal," he said. "But you don't want to take away a tool that a city has to reform itself. If you did, Oakland would suffer greatly."

During the 1970's, the Lau property, with its bookstore and cafe in the pre-Starbucks age, was a central hangout in funky Santa Cruz, neighbors say. Eric Lau watched his father's bookstore come to life and then die in the Loma Prieta earthquake, which destroyed the building.

The family's restaurant, Oswald, would not be considered blight by many standards. There is ivy on the outside walls, art on the inside, and the tables are covered with fresh-pressed linen. The restaurant is packed on most nights, neighbors say. And it has consistently been voted one of the best places to dine in Santa Cruz, a beach town of 54,000 people south of San Jose, known for its university and the carpet of redwoods on its fog-shrouded hills.

Ron Lau, who is 69, has long tried to build something on the undeveloped part of the property - the hole in the ground. The problem, city officials say, is that Mr. Lau has proposed hard-to-build, idealistic plans, involving alternative energy sources and unusual designs, that have never gotten off the ground, angering some nearby property owners.

"We do not use eminent domain frivolously," said Ceil Cirillo, executive director of the Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency. "I feel we have been very fair and very patient."

Taking the Lau property would serve the public good, Ms. Cirillo said, "because there is a hole in the center of our retail district."

Eric Lau and his sister Lani say the city is taking their property simply because their father took so much time to try to build something unusual.

"My dad was hellbent on getting his dream project built, nothing less, and that has been his biggest weakness," Eric Lau said.

The city agency has offered the family $1.6 million for the property, and the Laus plan to fight it. It is unclear whether the amendment would protect the Laus, but they hope to hang on to the property long enough to find out. A vote on the amendment would come no sooner than next June, legislative leaders say.

Meanwhile, the Laus say they are willing to modify their plans and build something close to what the city has agreed to with a developer.

But city officials say that they have run out of patience and that it is too late for the Laus to come up with new designs. They have an exclusive agreement, Ms. Cirillo said, with a developer, Bolton Hill, to take over the property and build on it.

"The project is moving forward," Ms. Cirillo said. "The Supreme Court gave us reassurance of our ability to proceed."

As for Laus and their restaurant, Ms. Cirillo said there might still be a place for them in the new development - after they sell out.

"Ideally, we would like to see them relocated in some way to the project," she said.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Senate's Leader Veers From Bush Over Stem Cells - New York Times

Senate's Leader Veers From Bush Over Stem Cells - New York TimesJuly 29, 2005
Senate's Leader Veers From Bush Over Stem Cells
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, July 28 - In a break with President Bush, the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, has decided to support a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that could push it closer to passage and force a confrontation with the White House, which is threatening to veto the measure.

Mr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon who said last month that he did not back expanding financing "at this juncture," is expected to announce his decision Friday morning in a lengthy Senate speech. In it, he says that while he has reservations about altering Mr. Bush's four-year-old policy, which placed strict limits on taxpayer financing for the work, he supports the bill nonetheless.

"While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," Mr. Frist says, according to a text of the speech provided by his office Thursday evening. "Therefore, I believe the president's policy should be modified."

Mr. Frist's move will undoubtedly change the political landscape in the debate over embryonic stem cell research, one of the thorniest moral issues to come before Congress. The chief House sponsor of the bill, Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, said, "His support is of huge significance."

The stem cell bill has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate, where competing measures are also under consideration. Because Mr. Frist's colleagues look to him for advice on medical matters, his support for the bill could break the Senate logjam. It could also give undecided Republicans political license to back the legislation, which is already close to having the votes it needs to pass the Senate.

The move could also have implications for Mr. Frist's political future. The senator is widely considered a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, and supporting an expansion of the policy will put him at odds not only with the White House but also with Christian conservatives, whose support he will need in the race for the Republican nomination. But the decision could also help him win support among centrists.

"I am pro-life," Mr. Frist says in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception."

But at the same time, he says, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."

Backers of the research were elated. "This is critically important," said Larry Soler, a lobbyist for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. "The Senate majority leader, who is also a physician, is confirming the real potential of embryonic stem cell research and the need to expand the policy."

Mr. Frist, who was instrumental in persuading President Bush to open the door to the research four years ago, has been under pressure from all sides of the stem cell debate. Some of his fellow Senate Republicans, including Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who is the lead Senate sponsor of the House bill, have been pressing him to bring up the measure for consideration. But with President Bush vowing to veto it - it would be his first veto - other Republicans have been pushing alternatives that could peel support away from the House bill.

Last week Mr. Castle accused the White House and Mr. Frist of "doing everything in their power to deflect votes away from" the bill. On Thursday night, Mr. Castle said he had written a letter to Mr. Frist just that morning urging him to support the measure. "His support of this makes it the dominant bill," he said.

Despite Mr. Frist's speech, a vote on the bill is not likely to occur before September because the Congress is scheduled to adjourn this weekend for the August recess.

With proponents of the various alternatives unable to agree on when and how to bring them up for consideration, Mr. Frist says he will continue to work to bring up all the bills, so that senators can have a "serious and thoughtful debate."

Human embryonic stem cells are considered by scientists to be the building blocks of a new field of regenerative medicine. The cells, extracted from human embryos, have the potential to grow into any type of tissue in the body, and advocates for patients believe they hold the potential for treatments and cures for a range of diseases, from juvenile diabetes to Alzheimer's disease.

But the cells cannot be obtained without destroying human embryos, which opponents of the research say is tantamount to murder. "An embryo is nascent human life," Mr. Frist says in his speech, adding: "This position is consistent with my faith. But, to me, it isn't just a matter of faith. It's a fact of science."

On Aug. 9, 2001, in the first prime-time speech of his presidency, Mr. Bush struck a compromise: he said the government would pay only for research on stem cell colonies, or lines, created by that date, so that the work would involve only those embryos "where the life or death decision has already been made."

The House-passed bill would expand that policy by allowing research on stem cell lines extracted from frozen embryos, left over from fertility treatments, that would otherwise be discarded. Mr. Castle has said he believes the bill meets the president's guidelines because the couples creating the embryos have made the decision to destroy them.

In his speech, Mr. Frist seems to adopt that line of reasoning, harking back to a set of principles he articulated in July 2001, before the president made his announcement, in which he proposed restricting the number of stem cell lines without a specific cutoff date. At the time, he said the government should pay for research only on those embryos "that would otherwise be discarded."

After Mr. Bush made his announcement, it was believed that as many as 78 lines would be eligible for federal money. "That has proven not to be the case," Mr. Frist wrote. "Today, only 22 lines are eligible."

But, Mr. Frist says the Castle bill has shortcomings. He says it "lacks a strong ethical and scientific oversight mechanism," does not prohibit financial incentives between fertility clinics and patients, and does not specify whether the patients or the clinic staff have a say over whether embryos are discarded. He also says the bill "would constrain the ability of policy makers to make adjustments in the future."

Mr. Frist also says he supports some of the alternative measures, including bills that would promote research on so-called adult stem cells and research into unproven methods of extracting stem cells without destroying human embryos.

"Cure today may be just a theory, a hope, a dream," he says, in the conclusion of the text. "But the promise is powerful enough that I believe this research deserves our increased energy and focus. Embryonic stem cell research must be supported. It's time for a modified policy - the right policy for this moment in time."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Nearly 433,000 Watch Launch Webcast

CBS 46 Atlanta - Nearly 433,000 Watch Launch WebcastNearly 433,000 Watch Launch Webcast
Jul 28, 2005, 9:44 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- In another milestone for Internet video, nearly 433,000 people simultaneously watched NASA's webcast of this week's space shuttle launch.

That's more than twice the 175,000 streams that America Online Inc. had at its peak July 2 for the Live 8 concerts, an event widely cited as a coming-of-age moment for online video. It also nearly quadrupled a record for NASA set three weeks ago during Deep Impact's encounter with the comet Tempel 1.

Yahoo Inc., in a partnership with NASA, sent out 335,000 streams in Windows Media format, while Akamai Technologies Inc. sent the rest in RealMedia format.

Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off at 10:39 a.m. EDT Tuesday, when many Americans were at work and had no television access.

Scott Moore, Yahoo's vice president for content operations, acknowledged that the online audience would have been lower had the launch occurred over the weekend or at night.

"Watching streaming video on the computer today is still not the same quality experience as watching the same broadcast on television, but if your choice is to wait until you get home at night versus pointing your browser that's on your desk at work, ... then it's sort of a different choice," Moore said.

Other companies also webcast the launch, but unofficially. Moore said the audience may have exceeded 500,000 if those outlets are counted.

Case of C.I.A. Officer's Leaked Identity Takes New Turn - New York Times

Case of C.I.A. Officer's Leaked Identity Takes New Turn - New York TimesJuly 28, 2005
Case of C.I.A. Officer's Leaked Identity Takes New Turn
By DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, July 26 - In the same week in July 2003 in which Bush administration officials told a syndicated columnist and a Time magazine reporter that a C.I.A. officer had initiated her husband's mission to Niger, an administration official provided a Washington Post reporter with a similar account.

The first two episodes, involving the columnist Robert D. Novak and the reporter Matthew Cooper, have become the subjects of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But little attention has been paid to what The Post reporter, Walter Pincus, has recently described as a separate exchange on July 12, 2003.

In that exchange, Mr. Pincus says, "an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention" to the trip to Niger by Joseph C. Wilson IV "because it was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, an analyst with the agency who was working on weapons of mass destruction."

Mr. Wilson traveled to Niger in 2002 at the request of the C.I.A. to look into reports about Iraqi efforts to buy nuclear materials. He later accused the administration of twisting intelligence about the nuclear ambitions of Iraq, prompting an angry response from the White House.

Mr. Pincus did not write about the exchange with the administration official until October 2003, and The Washington Post itself has since reported little about it. The newspaper's most recent story was a 737-word account last Sept. 16, in which the newspaper reported that Mr. Pincus had testified the previous day about the matter, but only after his confidential source had first "revealed his or her identity" to Mr. Fitzgerald, the special counsel conducting the C.I.A. leak inquiry.

Mr. Pincus has not identified his source to the public. But a review of Mr. Pincus's own accounts and those of other people with detailed knowledge of the case strongly suggest that his source was neither Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, nor I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was in fact a third administration official whose identity has not yet been publicly disclosed.

Mr. Pincus's most recent account, in the current issue of Nieman Reports, a journal of the Nieman Foundation, makes clear that his source had volunteered the information to him, something that people close to both Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have said they did not do in their conversations with reporters.

Mr. Pincus has said he will not identify his source until the source does so. But his account and those provided by other reporters sought out by Mr. Fitzgerald in connection with the case provide a fresh window into the cast of individuals other than Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby who discussed Ms. Wilson with reporters.

In addition to Mr. Pincus, the reporters known to have been pursued by the special prosecutor include Mr. Novak, whose column of July 14, 2003, was the first to identify Ms. Wilson, by her maiden name, Valerie Plame; Mr. Cooper, who testified before a grand jury on the matter earlier this month; Tim Russert, the Washington bureau chief of NBC News, and who was interviewed by the prosecutor last year; Glenn Kessler, a diplomatic reporter for The Post, who was also interviewed last year, and Judith Miller of The New York Times, who is now in jail for refusing to testify about the matter. It is not known whether Mr. Novak has testified or been interviewed on the matter.

Both Mr. Pincus, who covers intelligence matters for The Post, and Mr. Russert have continued to report on the investigation after being interviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald about their conversations with government officials.

Mr. Pincus wrote in the Nieman Reports article that he had agreed to answer questions from Mr. Fitzgerald last fall about his July 12, 2003, conversation only after "it turned out that my source, whom I still cannot identify publicly, had in fact disclosed to the prosecutor that he was my source, and he talked to the prosecutor about our conversation."

In identifying Ms. Wilson and her role, Mr. Novak attributed that account to two senior Bush administration officials. One of those officials was Mr. Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff, according to people close to Mr. Rove, who have said he merely confirmed information that Mr. Novak already had.

But the identity of Mr. Novak's original source, whom he has described as "no partisan gunslinger," remains unknown.

Mr. Cooper of Time magazine, who wrote about the matter several days after Mr. Novak's column appeared, has written and said publicly that he told a grand jury that Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove were among his sources. But Mr. Cooper has also said that there may have been others.

Ms. Miller never wrote a story about the matter. She has refused to testify in response to a court order directing her to testify in response to a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald seeking her testimony about a conversation with a specified government official between June 6, 2003, and June 13, 2003.

During that period, Ms. Miller was working primarily from the Washington bureau of The Times, reporting to Jill Abramson, who was the Washington bureau chief at the time, and was assigned to report for an article published July 20, 2003, about Iraq and the hunt for unconventional weapons, according to Ms. Abramson, who is now managing editor of The Times.

In e-mail messages this week, Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, and George Freeman, an assistant general counsel of the newspaper, declined to address written questions about whether Ms. Miller was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write a story about it, or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at the newspaper that she had obtained information about the role played by Ms. Wilson.

The four reporters known to have been interviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald or to have appeared before the grand jury have said that they did so after receiving explicit permission from their sources, most notably Mr. Libby, who was the subject of the interviews involving Mr. Russert, Mr. Kessler, Mr. Pincus and Mr. Cooper. They have declined to elaborate on their statements, citing Mr. Fitzgerald's request that they and others not speak publicly about the matter.

Mr. Russert, Mr. Kessler and Mr. Pincus have indicated in statements released by their news organizations that their conversations with Mr. Libby were not about Ms. Wilson.

In his article in the Summer 2005 issue of Nieman Reports, Mr. Pincus wrote that he did not write about Ms. Wilson when he first heard the account "because I did not believe it true that she had arranged" Mr. Wilson's trip.

Mr. Pincus first disclosed the July 12, 2003, conversation with an administration official in an Oct. 12, 2003, article in The Washington Post, but did not mention in that article that he himself had been the recipient of the information. He wrote in Nieman Reports that he did not believe the person who spoke to him was committing a criminal act, but only practicing damage control by trying to get him to write about Mr. Wilson.

David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting for this article.

I.R.A. Renounces Violence in Potentially Profound Shift - New York Times

I.R.A. Renounces Violence in Potentially Profound Shift - New York TimesJuly 28, 2005
I.R.A. Renounces Violence in Potentially Profound Shift
By BRIAN LAVERY
and ALAN COWELL

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, July 28 - The Irish Republican Army declared an end to its campaign of violence against Britain that claimed more than 3,500 lives over 36 years, saying there was "an alternative way to achieve" its goal of a United Ireland.

The announcement in a DVD released to reporters was taken in London as, potentially, a profound shift in Northern Ireland's destiny, reversing decades of Republican commitment to violence in the effort to end British rule.

"This may be the day on which, finally, after all these false dawns and dashed hopes, peace replaced war, politics replaces terror on the island of Ireland," Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a televised statement in London. He also said the announcement "creates the circumstances" in which Northern Ireland's power-sharing local government could be revived. "This is a step of unparalleled magnitude in the recent history of Northern Ireland."

The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, struck a more cautious note, saying the I.R.A. statement would be momentous if the organization matched words with deeds.

Among the troubling issues is whether the I.R.A. will halt the criminal operations - such as armed robbery, smuggling and money laundering - that fund the organization. The I.R.A. said that its members must not engage in any other activities whatsoever, but skeptics worry that the organization may break up into small independent crime gangs.

The statement by the I.R.A. said: "Our decisions have been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives, including our goal of a united Ireland. We believe there is now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country."

"All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms," said the statement, which was read out on a DVD by a former prisoner, Seana Walsh.

Mr. Blair said Unionists - the I.R.A.'s foes - would want to ensure that the "clear statement of principal is kept to in practice."

The widely expected statement could mark the conclusion of the bloodiest chapter in modern Irish history, foretold in 1994, when an I.R.A. cease-fire began winding up the tradition of militant Irish republicanism. And it takes a step towards restoring Northern Ireland's local government, which was established under a 1998 peace accord but suspended in 2002 due to allegations of I.R.A. activity.Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the I.R.A., said at a news conference in Dublin that the announcement could "help revive the peace process" and said it was a challenge to the British and Irish governments as well as the Ulster Unionists to see that the peace accord is carried out.

Unionists, the province's largest political group who are mostly Protestant, are likely to insist on a delay of at least a year before returning to share seats in the provincial legislature with Sinn Fein. "There are still a number of areas of loose ends," Jeffrey Donaldson, a Northern Irish member of the British parliament for the hard-line Democratic Unionists, told RTE radio. "We'll probably need a period of time now over which we can judge whether what the I.R.A. says is what they actually do."

The statement came four months after Mr. Adams, who denies repeated reports that he has been an I.R.A. commander, called on the guerrilla group to embrace purely political and democratic activity. Top Sinn Fein representatives are in Washington, London and Brussels to brief international leaders on the I.R.A. decision.

The loose ends include the possible continuation of I.R.A. criminal operations. Police blame the I.R.A. for crimes like the robbery of $50 million from a Belfast bank last December, and the murder of a Belfast man, Robert McCartney, in January, but no prosecutions have followed in either case.

Mainstream politicians want Sinn Fein, and its I.R.A. supporters, to endorse Northern Ireland's fledgling police service, which has been revamped to gain the trust of Roman Catholics, who suffered from discrimination in the past.

Dismantling the I.R.A.'s massive stashes of weapons, which are mostly hidden in underground bunkers in the countryside, has been the most stubborn obstacle to a functioning power-sharing system between Roman Catholic and Protestant political groups in Northern Ireland.

The I.R.A. has destroyed arms dumps on three separate occasions with the cooperation of John DeChastelain, the retired Canadian general who heads a commission supervising disarmament. But Unionist parties withdrew from government on several occasions after the 1998 pact in protest at the slow pace of the process.

The I.R.A. said on Wednesday that it would complete "the process to verifiably put its arms beyond use", and that it invited Protestant and Catholic clergymen to serve as witnesses so that disarmament can be completed "as quickly as possible."

Analysts said that, based on Mr. DeChastelain's previous methods, the issue would likely be dealt with in a matter of days. Last December, the Democratic Unionists, led by the firebrand preacher Ian Paisley, scuttled an effort to restore Northern Ireland's government by demanding photographic evidence that the arms had been destroyed, which the I.R.A. refused.

Mr. Paisley's party, which favors continued union with Britain, indicated it would take months to negotiate a revival of Northern Ireland's power-sharing assembly.

Even before the I.R.A. statement was issued, Mr. Paisley told the BBC: "I am saying now the proof of the pudding is in the eating and digesting of it. We've heard it all before. You can wrap it up any way you like, put a new bit of ribbon on the package but we want the action, the proof this is happening."

Mr. Paisley's party refuses to talk to Sinn Fein and says it is indistinguishable from the I.R.A.

Brian Lavery reported from Belfast for this article, and Alan Cowell reported from London

Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume - New York Times

Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume - New York TimesJuly 28, 2005
Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume
By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN, July 27 - Iran's departing president said Wednesday that the country's senior officials had decided to resume activities at one nuclear site no matter what incentives were in a European proposal expected next week.

Mohammad Khatami made the comment during one of his last meetings with journalists as president. He will be succeeded Aug. 6 by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative who has said Iran has no intention of making nuclear weapons but will not give up its right to peaceful nuclear technology.

Mr. Khatami said, "Whether the Europeans mention our right in their would-be proposals or not, we will definitely resume work in Isfahan," the site of a uranium processing plant.

"It was expected that they will agree to resumption of activities at the plant in Isfahan," he said. "We prefer to do it with their agreement. If they don't agree, then the decision to start activities in Isfahan has already been made by the ruling system."

Under the Iranian Constitution, major state policies, like decisions over nuclear activities, are made by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At the Isfahan plant, 155 miles south of Tehran, uranium ore is converted into gas. The gas can later be fed into centrifuges for enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear bombs or reactors. Iran contends it wants to make its own fuel for nuclear energy.

Britain, Germany and France are to present an incentive proposal in an effort to persuade Iran to maintain the suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Last November, Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment-related activities until the Europeans presented their proposal.

Two senior diplomats involved in the talks, from Britain and France, confirmed that the presentation would occur on schedule, but said that the plan was not yet final.

A senior Iranian official said Tuesday that the European countries had until Aug. 1 to present their proposal or Tehran would go its own way.

The official, Ali Aghamohammadi, the spokesman for Iran's National Security Council, which has been responsible for the negotiations, told state television, "We have told Europeans that there should not be any delay in submitting their proposal." He added, "After Aug. 1 we will make our decision."

House Approves Free Trade Pact - New York Times

House Approves Free Trade Pact - New York TimesJuly 28, 2005
House Approves Free Trade Pact
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS

WASHINGTON, Thursday, July 28 - The House of Representatives narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement early Thursday, allowing President Bush to put his signature to the nation's biggest reduction of trade barriers in more than 10 years.

After one of the hardest-fought legislative battles of the year, Republican leaders were able to cut enough political deals to overcome fears among many of their own members about foreign competition and push ahead despite opposition from most Democrats, labor unions and the sugar industry's powerful lobby.

The vote, 217 to 215, came almost a month after the Senate approved the trade pact and gave Mr. Bush a crucial victory that had seemed in doubt a few days ago. As recently as Tuesday, fewer than half of Republican lawmakers had publicly endorsed the pact and almost all Democrats were planning to vote against it.

But the end result did not come without some drama. The voting took almost an hour as Republicans pressured about 8 to 10 members. The count seemed to stall after about 30 minutes with the tally at 214 in favor and 211 against, and a handful of votes outstanding.

For the next half-hour, Republicans, mostly from textile states, jockeyed over who would be allowed to vote against the bill and save face back home. The final count came minutes after midnight.

Within minutes after the vote, the White House released a statement from Mr. Bush praising the action. "By lowering trade barriers to American goods in Central American markets to a level now enjoyed by their goods in the U.S.," he said in the statement, "this agreement will level the playing field and help American workers, farmers and small businesses."

Rob Portman, the United States trade representative, also congratulated Congress. "I pledge to do all I can," he said, "to continue our efforts to listen and address members' concerns on trade."

Passage of the bill came only after intense pressure from Mr. Bush, who made a last-minute trip to the Capitol on Wednesday morning, and after deals with reluctant lawmakers from textile-producing states, sugar-growing areas and industrial states like Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The pact would eliminate most barriers to trade and investment between the United States, the Dominican Republic and the Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Brimming with confidence, House Republican leaders declared that the pact would benefit the United States as well as the impoverished countries of Central America.

"Tonight, we have the opportunity to be the progressive, aggressive good-neighbor party," said Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "We will not be the ones who say for 40 years that we want to help and then heel to the protectionist movement."

The immediate economic impact is likely to be small, at least for the United States, because the combined economies of the six countries are equivalent to about 1 percent of the United States economy or an economy about the size of Tampa, Fla., and its surrounding suburbs.

But the political impact is likely to loom much larger. To supporters and opponents alike, the pact became a political symbol over how best to respond to globalization, competition from low-wage countries and the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

The treaty has also been the focus of a power struggle between Mr. Bush, who championed it as a model for expanding free trade, and Democratic lawmakers who argued that it would encourage American companies to shift jobs out of this country while doing little to elevate the working standards of Central Americans.

All but a handful of Democrats, including many who voted in 1994 for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which covered the far bigger trading partners of Mexico and Canada, voted against the Central American agreement even though many issues are the same.

Democrats charged that Mr. Bush has missed an opportunity to elevate labor practices in Central American nations, predicting that the pact would encourage American companies to shift jobs out of the United States without prodding Central American countries to offer livable wages and basic protections for workers.

"As our manufacturing base erodes, as our industrial base erodes, we have a president who is contributing to the further erosion of that base," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.

In a crucial breakthrough, White House officials and Republican leaders were able to win support from about half of the Republican lawmakers from textile-producing states like Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The trade deal has been unpopular in textile states, which have lost nearly 200,000 jobs in the industry in the last decade. But late last week, the administration announced that the Central American countries had agreed to several new restrictions that would benefit mills that export yarn and certain types of fabric.

One important concession, for instance, calls for the Central American countries to use American-made pockets and linings in pants they export to the United States.

Representative Gresham Barrett, Republican of South Carolina, was one of five Republicans who abandoned his opposition to the pact this week. On Wednesday, Mr. Barrett said that he was persuaded that with the new restrictions, the trade pact would prevent job loss to China.

But some textile industry groups, particularly those that represent producers of finished products rather than yarn or fabric, were furious and vowed to punish those who had changed their views.

Mr. Barrett said he was sanguine about the criticism. "Some of it bothers you," he said, "but I think in the long run a good Cafta agreement will help us keep jobs in South Carolina."

NASA Suspending Shuttle Program Over Foam Debris - New York Times

NASA Suspending Shuttle Program Over Foam Debris - New York TimesNASA Suspending Shuttle Program Over Foam Debris
By JOHN SCHWARTZ

HOUSTON, July 27 - NASA suspended further flights of the space shuttle fleet on Wednesday after determining that a large piece of insulating foam had broken off the external fuel tank of the Discovery shortly after liftoff Tuesday morning, the same problem that doomed the Columbia and its seven astronauts in the last mission, two and a half years ago.

The foam does not appear to have struck the Discovery, so the decision will not curtail its 12½-day mission to the International Space Station, the officials said. But further flights will be postponed indefinitely, starting with that of the Atlantis, which was to have lifted off as early as September.

"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," William W. Parsons, the manager of the shuttle program, said at a news briefing at the Johnson Space Center here on Wednesday evening.

The detection of another large breakaway piece of insulating foam is a potentially devastating setback for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a bitter counterpoint to the elation of Monday's seemingly perfect launching of the Discovery, a return to flight that was hailed as an inspiring comeback for the space program.

The effort to fix the foam problem had consumed more than two years and hundreds of millions of dollars. NASA identified the area on the tank that shed the latest piece of foam as a risk, but put off redesigning it.

"We decided it was safe to fly as is," Mr. Parsons said. "Obviously, we were wrong."

The incident occurred two minutes into the launching, at a point where the atmosphere is so thin that the piece drifted away. The Columbia accident occurred in part because the foam fell off the tank about 82 seconds after liftoff, when the air was much thicker and slowed the foam so the climbing orbiter struck it with great force.

N. Wayne Hale, the deputy manager of the shuttle program, said that if the Discovery foam had been shed earlier, "we think that it would have been really bad."

Tense and somber, Mr. Parsons said that he was "disappointed" in the news. Mr. Hale sounded resigned. "We are in the business of flying in space - it's a very difficult business," he said, adding: "It isn't disheartening. It's just the nature of the business."

Others were more dismayed. A NASA engineer who has been involved in the return-to-flight effort said: "It's an ugly story. It's a mess." The engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issues involved, added, "Everyone's really, really disappointed," but continued: "It is what it is. Physics doesn't lie."

Alex Roland, a former NASA historian who now teaches at Duke and is a frequent critic of the space program, said that in some ways the problem was "worse than an unexpected anomaly arising."

"This was the major problem that they were looking to solve," Mr. Roland said. "It must be enormously demoralizing to them."

Representative Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican who is chairman of the House Science Committee, said the shuttle program was "rightly grounded."

"Nothing can go forward at this juncture until there is further analysis and a remedy to the problem," Mr. Boehlert said. "It all depends on what they find. In some respects, it's back to the drawing board."

The Columbia and its crew were lost because a 1.67-pound piece of insulating foam that had fallen off the external tank during liftoff crashed through the leading edge of the shuttle's left wing. The resulting hole admitted superheated gases during the shuttle's fiery re-entry into the atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003.

That chunk fell from an area of hand-applied foam called the bipod arm ramp. The ramp's insulating foam surrounded the struts connecting the tank to the orbiter, and were originally designed to prevent ice from forming and becoming a debris hazard. But NASA had noticed that the bipod arm ramp tended to shed foam and decided to redesign it. They planned to replace it after the Columbia flight.

After the Columbia accident, the investigators who implicated the falling foam as the physical cause demanded that NASA find ways to sharply limit the amount of foam that falls off the external tank. Just as important, the investigative board determined, a "broken safety culture" tended to play down risks.

In response, NASA extensively tested foam and the way it is applied, modified the tank so that it would be less likely to shed debris, and replaced the foam-covered ramps with a heater.

In the incident described here on Wednesday, the new piece of foam - a hat-shaped chunk as much as 33 inches across at the widest part and 14 inches at the narrow part - sheared off another ramp on the external tank. It is known as the protuberance air load ramp, which NASA abbreviates as the PAL ramp, and was designed to minimize crosswise airflow and turbulence around cable trays and lines used to pressurize the external tank. The new piece is slightly smaller than the briefcase-size piece that hit the Columbia, Mr. Hale said.

Because of the other redesign efforts on the external tank, NASA engineers estimated that no piece of foam would come off the external tank that was larger than three-hundredths of a pound, and said they hoped to see no foam debris larger than one-hundredth of a pound.

On Wednesday, Mr. Parsons, who led the program requirements control board that considered all modifications, said, "We had enough data that showed we had had very few problems with the PAL ramp." The ramp, they found, performed a valuable protective function, he said; with no other obvious options, they decided the shuttle was safe to fly.

While the two other shuttles, Atlantis and Endeavour, are grounded, work will begin on solving the PAL ramp problem. "We'll put our best people on it," Mr. Parsons said, "and we'll figure out something to do."

"I don't know if that's a month, I don't know if that's three months," he went on. "We've got a lot of work in front of us."

But before that, the officials said, there is still a mission to complete and seven astronauts in space. Using the official numerical designation for the flight, Mr. Hale said, "Right now this team is focused on STS-114, and getting this crew home safely."

That means continuing with the work that had always been intended for the current mission: a thorough examination of the shuttle's thermal protection system for any damage, using an array of new cameras and laser systems.

Mr. Parsons and Mr. Hale said there were other surprising examples of lost foam - including divots several inches long that popped out of "acreage foam," which is applied robotically and had been considered to be free of shedding problems.

They also showed photos of the loss of a 1.5-inch piece of an insulating tile over a landing-gear door on the nose cone, which they suggested might have sheared because of an earlier repair. Mr. Hale said the tile would receive further examination, but was not considered a critical problem now.

"Are we concerned about this? We're treating this very seriously," he said. "Are we losing sleep over it? Not yet."

Mission managers said they briefly discussed the news of the foam chunk with the astronauts in the afternoon, and transmitted pictures to Discovery in the early evening after the astronauts' bed time.

The shuttle astronauts - the commander, Col. Eileen M. Collins; the pilot, Col. James M. Kelly; the flight engineer, Stephen K. Robinson; and the mission specialists, Soichi Noguchi, Andrew S. W. Thomas, Capt. Wendy B. Lawrence and Charles J. Camarda - spent most of their workday using the shuttle's robot arm and a 50-foot sensor-tipped boom to inspect the craft's nose and the wings' leading edges, and preparing to dock with the International Space Station.

During slow, close-up scans of the reinforced carbon structures with a high-definition television camera and laser scanners, no obvious damage was spotted. Though the preliminary results look promising, Mr. Hale said, there are problems with viewing some areas that will have to be repeated, and so "today we cannot tell you without a shadow of a doubt that we've got a clean bill of health" for those panels.

The astronauts had awakened to their first full day in space to the song "I Got You, Babe," as excerpted from the movie "Groundhog Day." The movie, about living the same day over and over, was a joking reference to the seemingly endless days in prelaunching quarantine as the crew awaited their chance to fly.

Kenneth Chang contributed reporting from New York for this article.

Japan Today - News - Taiwan's Chen urges opposition to support massive arms deal - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Taiwan's Chen urges opposition to support massive arms deal - Japan's Leading International News NetworkTaiwan's Chen urges opposition to support massive arms deal

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Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 07:56 JST
TAIPEI — Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian renewed his call on the opposition to back a plan to purchase advanced weapons from the United States as he watched an exercise conducted to test the military's combat readiness to resist a possible Chinese invasion.

"The arms procurement bills involving three major items aimed at strengthening Taiwan's self-defense capabilities should be discussed based on a more rational and professional attitude," Chen said. (Kyodo News)

Tokyo school board adopts disputed history text - Boston.com - Asia - News

Tokyo school board adopts disputed history text - Boston.com - Asia - NewsTokyo school board adopts disputed history text

By Masayuki Kitano | July 28, 2005

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo's education board adopted on Thursday a history textbook that critics say whitewashes past Japanese militarism for use at 26 junior high schools in the capital, a decision that could anger China and South Korea. Japan's Education Ministry in April approved a new edition of the textbook, written by nationalist scholars, sparking protests from China and South Korea where bitter memories of Japan's aggression before and during World War II persist.

The six-member Tokyo education board adopted the textbook for use at four state-run schools and 22 schools for the blind and deaf and the physically and mentally handicapped, said an official at the Tokyo metropolitan government.

"The decision was reached unanimously," he said, adding that the textbooks would be used for four years starting next year.

The board also adopted a civics textbook, sponsored by the same scholars, that has upset South Korea as it reiterates Tokyo's claim to two tiny islands disputed with Seoul, for use at the 22 schools for the handicapped.

Earlier this month, the education board of the city of Otawara in Tochigi prefecture, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Tokyo, had become the first municipal government to adopt the latest versions of the two disputed textbooks.

Critics say the history textbook, sponsored by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai), plays down the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, ignores the sexual enslavement of women for Japanese soldiers and depicts Japanese wartime actions as aimed at liberating other Asian countries.

A previous version of the history textbook, approved in 2001, was adopted by less than 1 percent of school districts nationwide, but Tsukurukai and their supporters hope to increase the share to 10 percent this time.

Opponents of the textbook are worried that given the rise of what some see as nationalism in certain quarters of Japanese society, many state schools may adopt the textbook.

The authors and supporters of the textbook argue that the history text's approach corrects a "masochistic" view of history which they say has deprived Japanese of pride and patriotism.

The Japanese government has said the text does not represent its official view of history.

TEXTBOOK BATTLE

The Tokyo board of education had already adopted an earlier version of the history text in several schools.

The Tokyo board has jurisdiction over the four state-run high schools -- all of which run six-year programs combining junior and senior high schools -- and a number of schools for the handicapped, while local school boards will decide what text to use in districts throughout the capital and elsewhere in Japan.

A civics group opposed to the history textbook demanded that the Tokyo education board repeal its decision.

"We strongly and angrily protest against this outrage," the group, called the Tokyo network to prevent the adoption of Tsukurukai textbooks, said in a statement.

"The Tokyo education board will likely taste disgrace internationally as a local municipality that ... adopted a textbook that distorts the facts of history," the group added.

Japanese school textbooks are approved every four years by the Education Ministry following screening, and local school boards then decide during the summer which textbooks to adopt in their districts. (Additional reporting by Linda Sieg)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role - 07/27/05

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role - 07/27/05Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq constitution draft gives Islam key role

The move would make religion the source of legislation; women fear erosion of their rights.

By Bassem Mroue / Associated Press

U.S. toll in Iraq

As of today, at least 1,778 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,639 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Framers of Iraq's constitution will designate Islam as the main source of legislation, according to a draft published Tuesday. The draft states no law will be approved that contradicts "the rules of Islam" -- a requirement that could affect women's rights and set Iraq on a course far different from the one envisioned when U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

"Islam is the official religion of the state and is the main source of legislation," reads the draft published in the government newspaper Al-Sabah. "No law that contradicts with its rules can be promulgated."

The document also grants the Shiite religious leadership in Najaf a "guiding role" in recognition of its "high national and religious symbolism." Al-Sabah noted, however, that there were unspecified differences among the committee on the Najaf portion. Those would presumably include Kurds, Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites on the committee.

During U.S. control of Iraq, which ended June 28, 2004, key Shiite and some Sunni politicians sought to have Islam designated the main source of legislation in the interim constitution, which took effect in March 2004.

The U.S. governor of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, blocked the move, agreeing only that Islam would be considered "a source" -- but not the only one. At the time, prominent Shiite politicians agreed to wait and pursue the issue during the drafting of the permanent constitution.

Some women's groups fear strict interpretation of Islamic principles could erode their rights in such areas as divorce and inheritance.

HoustonChronicle.com - Agency starts assessing level of risk to seven-member crew

HoustonChronicle.com - Agency starts assessing level of risk to seven-member crewJuly 27, 2005, 3:34AM

Agency starts assessing level of risk to seven-member crew
Mission's joyous start renews hope for space program
By MARK CARREAU

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. - The shuttle Discovery thundered into orbit Tuesday for an overdue rendezvous with the international space station, a near-perfect launch into a bright-blue Florida sky marred only by concern about debris falling from the spacecraft during its ascent.

NASA engineers immediately began assessing whether a falling object spotted by new tracking cameras posed any risk to Discovery and its crew, hoping to avoid a replay of the tragedy 2 1/2 years ago when similar debris doomed the shuttle Columbia and grounded the U.S. manned space program.

Shuttle commander Eileen Collins and her crew were informed of the developments late Tuesday as they prepared to spend their first night in space.

Astronauts awoke for their first full day of work in space today with plans to inspect the shuttle's wings and nose for damage using a camera attached to the spacecraft's arm. The carefully orchestrated maneuvers were expected to take about seven hours.

"Our guys are going to take a professional look at every frame of footage we have from every camera we have," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said. "These are test flights. The primary object under flight test is the external tank and all of the design changes we have made so we would not have a repeat of" Columbia.

Discovery and its crew of seven lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on time, at 9:39 a.m. CDT, after a flawless countdown that saw no repeat of the fuel-gauge problem that stopped a launch attempt nearly two weeks ago.

As the shuttle rose, it carried the hope that, after a long absence, the nation is back in the space business and that the tortuous road to recovery after the Columbia disaster is at an end.

Thousands of emotional onlookers who gathered on Florida's Atlantic coast cheered as Discovery rode its pillar of fiery exhaust upward, as did NASA employees at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Gouge, object spotted
"On behalf of the many millions of people who believe so deeply in what we do, good luck, Godspeed — and have a little fun up there," launch director Mike Leinbach told Collins and her crew just before liftoff.

As Discovery raced into orbit, the space agency's new collection of ground and airborne tracking cameras and radar spotted a small gouge in Discovery's heat shielding and an unidentified object that appeared to have peeled away from the ship's external fuel tank.

A chunk of foam that fell from the fuel tank and struck a wing caused Columbia to come apart on re-entry over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003. The investigative panel that determined the cause of that accident criticized the space agency's safety culture for ignoring a long history of debris strikes on flights that had nonetheless returned home safely.

Though headed for the international space station on a 12-day repair and supply mission, Discovery's crew will spend much of its time assessing NASA's $1.5 billion Columbia recovery strategy that included modifications to the disposable fuel tank to cut the debris losses.

Other changes made Discovery's flight the most scrutinized in the shuttle program's history.

The new tracking devices that filmed the ship's ascent to orbit detected a 1 1/2 -inch gouge in a soft silica heat-shielding tile around the nose landing-gear wheel door on Discovery's underside. The damage is in an area especially sensitive to the high temperatures that build during atmospheric re-entry.

It was not clear whether something had struck the tile.

A larger object appeared to fly away from the external tank without striking anything. The object was seen about the same time that the shuttle's two solid rocket boosters were jettisoned approximately two minutes after liftoff.

Both incidents were captured by the new video camera fastened near the top of the fuel tank and aimed at Discovery's underside.

"The big question is, what is that?" said NASA flight operations manager John Shannon. "It's too early. ... We'll learn more as we go through this process."

Using a camera attached to an extension of the shuttle's robot arm, the shuttle astronauts will spend most of today sweeping the brittle carbon paneling that covers the leading edges of Discovery's wings and the nose cap in search of impact damage. They planned additional inspections for Thursday.

Discovery is equipped with several repair kits that astronauts have trained to test on the flight. But Shannon said more analysis of the damage is necessary before a repair will even be considered.

As part of the Columbia recovery, the space agency also made first-ever plans to launch a rescue mission if a stricken shuttle cannot attempt a safe landing. The plan calls for the ship's astronauts to take refuge on the space station until another shuttle can retrieve them.

Thousands show support
As Discovery lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center, nearly 2,500 guests of NASA, including first lady Laura Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, applauded and cheered.

"Our space program is a source of great national pride," President Bush said in a statement, "and this flight is an essential step toward our goal of continuing to lead the world in space science, human spaceflight and space exploration."

After reaching orbit, Collins saluted the astronauts who died on Columbia. "We miss them, and we are continuing their mission," she said. "God bless them tonight, and God bless their families."

In Clear Lake, home of the Johnson Space Center, the long-awaited launch proved an exhilarating moment for residents such as Betty Crockford, who watched the liftoff at home on television before heading to a neighborhood Starbucks.

"I just sat on the floor and cried," said Crockford, a retired research administrator at the University of Houston in Clear Lake. "I love NASA. I wanted this to happen, and it did."

Near Cape Canaveral, as many as 100,000 people crowded beaches, filled area parks and stopped at other vantage points to cheer on the astronauts.

They pointed excitedly when Discovery blazed away from the launch pad and tilted their heads back as the shuttle painted a curly trail of vapor across the sky.

"Awesome, awesome!" Port Orange resident Ruthie Martin gushed.

Employees at Johnson Space Center broke into applause as Discovery rumbled away.

Contributing to this report were Kim Cobb from Cape Canaveral, Melanie Markley from Clear Lake and Eric Berger from Johnson Space Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Files From 80's Lay Out Stances of Bush Nominee - New York Times

Files From 80's Lay Out Stances of Bush Nominee - New York TimesFiles From 80's Lay Out Stances of Bush Nominee
By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM

COLLEGE PARK, Md., July 26 - As a young lawyer in the Justice Department at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's presidency, John G. Roberts advocated judicial restraint on the issues of the day, many of which are still topical, documents released Tuesday by the National Archives show.

He defended, for instance, the constitutionality of proposed legislation to restrict the ability of federal courts to order busing to desegregate schools.

On other civil rights issues, he encouraged a cautious approach by courts and federal agencies in enforcing laws against discrimination.

Judge Roberts, now on the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also argued that Congress had the constitutional power "to divest the lower federal courts of jurisdiction over school prayer cases."

In another memorandum, he maintained that the Supreme Court, to which he is now nominated, overreached when it denied states the authority to impose residency requirements for welfare recipients.

This was an example, he wrote, of the court's tendency to find fundamental rights, like the right to travel between states, for which there was no explicit basis in the Constitution. "It's that very attitude which we are trying to resist," he wrote.

The documents released on Tuesday were the files, about 14,000 pages in all, that Judge Roberts kept from September 1981 to November 1982, when he was special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith. Judge Roberts was 26 when he took the position, his first job after working as a clerk for William H. Rehnquist, then an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

In a memorandum, Judge Roberts noted that he had spent his first day at the Justice Department helping Sandra Day O'Connor prepare for her confirmation hearings. In a line that will perhaps resonate as his own Supreme Court confirmation hearings draw near, he wrote: "The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments."

David J. Mengel, a supervisor at the Archives, said the Justice Department reviewed the files over the weekend and copied some but did not remove any. He said the archivists deleted some personal information like home addresses and removed two documents altogether to protect grand jury secrecy and personal privacy. These files were cleared for release by the Clinton administration, but had received little attention before Judge Roberts's nomination to the Supreme Court one week ago.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, received copies of the files from those years on Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats on the panel are at an impasse over the timetable for the confirmation hearings, and over access to other documents pertaining to Judge Roberts's government service.

Although Judge Roberts's stint at the Justice Department was brief, the new Republican administration was rethinking and changing many of the policies that had been established in the Carter administration and earlier. Judge Roberts then moved to the White House counsel's office, where he stayed until 1986. About 4,000 pages of Judge Roberts's files those years are available at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Judge Roberts's duties seemed to cut across many of the hottest matters before the Justice Department. He addressed a wide variety of issues in his memorandums and quoted the views of legal scholars ranging from Chief Justice John Marshall to Antonin Scalia, a law professor at the time who is now an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

In one handwritten memorandum, Judge Roberts suggested his view of how the Constitution should be interpreted, saying, "real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read," without attention to what outside commentators were writing.

On the matter of proposed legislation limiting the power of courts to order school busing, such a restriction would not have "an invidious discriminatory purpose," he wrote in a memorandum to Mr. Smith. "Indeed," he said, "the bill would protect all students from transportation to schools distant from their homes, irrespective of their race."

"We do not believe busing is necessary" to ensure equal educational opportunity, he declared.

Judge Roberts's views on abortion are not laid out in what he wrote in these years. But in October 1981, he attended a conference at the American Enterprise Institute on judicial power and observed that most of the participants "recognized a serious problem in the current exercise of judicial power" as illustrated "by what is broadly perceived to be the unprincipled jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade."

On civil rights laws, Judge Roberts recommended against an expansive approach to enforcement.

In December 1981, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a report broadly defending affirmative action as a way to combat pervasive discrimination. Judge Roberts wrote a blistering critique, saying the "obvious reason" affirmative action programs had failed was that they "required the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates."

In a memorandum to the attorney general in August 1982, he expressed support for a federal district court decision limiting the reach of a law against sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal aid. Judge Roberts said the law, called Title IX, applied only to specific programs that received federal aid, not to the entire university that maintained the programs.

"Under Title IX federal investigators cannot rummage willy-nilly through institutions but can only go as far as the federal funds go," he wrote.

Such restraint is a theme that ran through much of Judge Roberts's work and was evident in some of his comments on judicial reasoning. In reviewing the decisions of one judge, for example, Judge Roberts criticized a tendency to decide issues that were ultimately irrelevant to the case.

Judge Roberts also worried about the ability of courts to cope with an ever-rising number of cases unworthy of judicial attention. In one memorandum, he strongly criticized what he called the overuse of the writ of habeas corpus, a legal procedure often employed to challenge criminal convictions.

He argued that the writs overwhelmed the courts, were "frequently frivolous" and made "a mockery of the entire criminal justice system." In later years, Congress did set limits on the use of habeas corpus.

In several memorandums, Judge Roberts displayed a shrewd understanding of how Washington works. Responding to a letter from the American Jewish Committee in 1981, he asked a supervisor, "Is this draft response O.K. - i.e., does it succeed in saying nothing at all?"

Robert Pear, Jonathan D. Glater, Glen Justice and Kristen Lee contributed reporting for this article.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran firm on nuclear resumption

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran firm on nuclear resumption Iran firm on nuclear resumption
Iran will resume some controversial nuclear activities regardless of EU proposals in the next round of talks, the outgoing president says.

Mohammad Khatami said he hoped European diplomats would allow for a resumption of uranium enrichment activities, but Iran would begin again in any case.

Uranium enrichment can be used to fuel nuclear power stations, but can also provide material for nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is purely for non-military aims.

EU negotiators from Britain, France and Germany are due to present their latest proposals to their Iranian counterparts by the beginning of August.

"I hope that the Europeans proposals will, as agreed, allow for the resumption of [nuclear activities]," Mr Khatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"But if they do not agree, the system has already made its decision to resume [uranium conversion] at Isfahan."

Mr Khatami said the decision had been taken at an earlier meeting of top leaders of the regime.

Suspension

The Isfahan plant turns uranium ore into gas as a precursor to enrichment.

Iran suspended all uranium conversion and enrichment activities in November, but has always insisted that the suspension was temporary.

The US accuses Tehran of seeking to build a nuclear arsenal and opposes its nuclear enrichment activities.

EU diplomats want Tehran to end nuclear fuel development in return for economic incentives.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative former Tehran mayor who was elected Iran's president last month, has said he wants to continue the nuclear programme.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4720649.stm

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide PrintPrint
South Korea Proposes Accord to Break Nuclear Deadlock (Update2)

July 27 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea proposed that immediate aid be pledged to North Korea as soon as the nation agrees to verifiable steps to end its nuclear program, seeking to break a deadlock at six-party talks.

South Korea outlined the strategy to end disagreements on the timing of commitments at the second day of negotiations in Beijing, said a South Korean official attending the talks, who briefed the media on condition of anonymity. The U.S., China, Japan and Russia are the other participants.

The talks are the first since June 2004 and come after North Korea in February said it had built nuclear weapons and was withdrawing from the six-party framework. North Korean negotiators yesterday told U.S. officials they are unhappy with the timing of benefits the country would receive for giving up the program, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

``We can see many delegates have serious proposals,'' said Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at Nankai University in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. ``It's better than not talking but the chance of achieving a nuclear- free peninsula in this round is practically impossible.''

South Korea wants the meeting to yield a joint statement in which North Korea would pledge to end its nuclear program and the other participants would agree to normalize relations with North Korea and offer economic aid and security guarantees, the South Korean official said.

Joint Statement

Three previous rounds failed to yield such a statement.

North Korea doesn't want to have ``obligations'' ahead of those pledged by the five other parties, the Wall Street Journal quoted Christopher Hill, the chief negotiator for the U.S. at the talks as saying yesterday.

Russia's chief negotiator Alexander Alexeyev has already concluded future rounds of talks are necessary and that a significant breakthrough is impossible, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a member of the Russian delegation it didn't identify. He will outline ``initial conclusions'' from the morning's talks, Xinhua said.

An official at the Russian Embassy press office who didn't identify himself said Alexeyev will meet the press tomorrow afternoon. He declined to comment further.

Demanding Energy

The dispute arose in October 2002 when North Korea acknowledged to the U.S. it had broken a 1994 agreement and was continuing its nuclear development.

The U.S. proposed during talks in June 2004 to remove North Korea from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism and pledge not to attack the country if it halts its nuclear program. The U.S. also said it would help end North Korea's political and economic isolation.

South Korea said on July 12 it offered to build transmission lines and pylons to supply 2,000 megawatts of electricity to the North, on the condition the Stalinist nation agree to close down its nuclear weapons facilities. The proposal was in response to North Korea's demands during the third rounds of talks in June last year for the same amount of energy aid.

South Korea proposed that the possible joint statement to include its offer of electricity for North Korea the South Korean official said. South Korea also wants other countries to have a ``constructive'' attitude to normalizing relations and offering security guarantees, the official said.

North Korea, which relies on overseas aid to help feed its 23 million people, wants food aid as well as security guarantees, in return for disarming.

North Korea's chief delegate, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Kwan, said yesterday that the North is ``prepared make a political and strategic decision'' for a nuclear-free peninsula.

Hungry North Koreans are scavenging for ferns, acorns, grass and seaweed to eat as their government and international aid agencies run out of food, the Associated Press reported, citing Gerald Bourke, a Beijing-based spokesman for the World Food Program.

To contact the reporters for this story:
Allen T. Cheng in Beijing at Acheng13@bloomberg.net;
Heejin Koo in Seoul at hjkoo@bloomberg.net.

People's Daily Online -- Chinese delegation to hold bilateral talks with Japan, DPRK, and US

People's Daily Online -- Chinese delegation to hold bilateral talks with Japan, DPRK, and USChinese delegation to hold bilateral talks with Japan, DPRK, and US
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Chinese delegation will hold bilateral talks respectively with its counterparts of Japan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States Wednesday afternoon.

According to the press center of the fourth round of the six-party talks, other negotiators of the six-party will also have bilateral contacts on Wednesday afternoon.

Diplomats from China, DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan wrapped up their first plenary session of the fourth round of six-party talks at 11:40 Wednesday morning.

US delegation will hold the first briefing meeting Wednesday evening after their arrival in Beijing, according to sources with the press center.

The going-on round of six-party talks opened Tuesday morning.

Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Space shuttle Discovery lifting off the launch pad, July 26th 2005 Posted by Picasa

Shuttle Launches as Planned, Starting 12-Day Journey in Space - New York Times

Shuttle Launches as Planned, Starting 12-Day Journey in Space - New York TimesJuly 26, 2005
Shuttle Launches as Planned, Starting 12-Day Journey in Space
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
and WARREN E. LEARY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 26 - The Discovery was launched today as planned at 10:39, embarking on the first shuttle journey since the loss of Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003.

The shuttle showed no signs at liftoff of the sensor troubles that had bedeviled NASA's last attempt to launch.

NASA rules do not allow launching if none of the three transatlantic landing sites is available in case the shuttle needs to abort because of engine trouble or other problems. One of the sites, in Zaragoza, Spain, has weather that would not allow a landing, but the other two, in Moron, Spain, and Istres, France, were declared acceptable.

A malfunction in the fuel level sensor system caused NASA to scrub its first launching attempt, on July 13. The sensors are important because they keep the shuttle's main engines from running on empty - a situation that could cause them to tear apart, with potentially disastrous results for the shuttle and crew. If two of the sensors indicate the shuttle's tank is nearly empty, they will set off an engine shutdown.

The process of filling the shuttle's external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen began at 12:48. NASA began monitoring the low-level engine cut-off sensors in the liquid hydrogen tank as soon as they became immersed in the super-chilled liquid. Fueling was completed shortly after 3 a.m.

Since the July scrub, 12 teams of engineers from around the country have struggled to address the problem, which first appeared during a test of the tank in April. At that time, NASA officials delayed the launching, then scheduled for May, because of the sensor problem and other issues that had emerged. By June, Discovery had been fitted with a new external fuel tank, many components of the fuel level sensor system had been replaced, and NASA engineers and officials decided that the problem with the sensors had been fixed.

They were so confident, in fact, that they decided to forgo another tanking test, in which the tank would be filled with fuel to check the sensors.

Then on July 13, one of the sensors malfunctioned again during a test; mission controllers sent a signal to the sensors to "read dry" - that is, to pretend that there was no fuel in the tank even though they were immersed in it. Three of the four sensors responded correctly, but sensor number 2 failed to change. Just two and a half hours before blastoff, as the Discovery crew members were being strapped into their seats, mission control gave the order to stand down.

At 1:15 this morning, the sensors were once again immersed in liquid hydrogen, and all four sensors "read wet," said Martin J.Jensen, a NASA spokesman. At 1:27, he said, "they commanded them to go dry, and they've all been dry ever since," Mr. Jensen said.

Only two of the sensors need to be functioning in order to properly monitor the fuel levels, but NASA launching rules require that all four sensors be operating. After studying the malfunction for nearly two weeks, NASA officials had decided that if the fuel system failed again in the same way, they would be able to approve a launching with only three sensors working.

The decisions had raised concerns that NASA might be compromising safety in order to launch - known in the space community as "go fever." The pressure to play down safety concerns has been cited in the two fatal accidents in the shuttle program's history, the Challenger disaster in 1986 and the loss of Columbia. The independent board that investigated the Columbia accident said that NASA had a "broken safety culture" and called for culture changes to go with the physical modifications that would prevent large pieces of launching debris from causing another fatal accident.

On Sunday, Michael D. Griffin, the agency's administrator, denied that the decision to launch despite the nagging sensor problem was an example of go fever and said he was "comfortable" with how agency managers were dealing with recent technical problems. The space agency, Mr. Griffin said, is not "brushing away" uncertainty, but dealing with it the way that scientists and engineers do, which is to "balance one type of risk with another type or risk."

"I think what you want coming out of the Columbia accident, the loss of Columbia and the soul-searching examination that NASA has undertaken since then, what you want of NASA is that we make the right technical decisions, that we do the right thing to the extent that we can figure that out, which is hard," he said. "You want us doing what's right and not what's obvious or popular."

The crew - commander Eileen Collins and her six crewmates - pilot James Kelly, flight engineer Robinson, Soichi Noguchi, Andrew Thomas, Wendy Lawrence and Charles Camarda - began to enter the shuttle cabin at 7:17, one by one. During the July attempt, many of the crew members took a moment on camera before entering the cabin to hold up banners and send silent signs to family and friends. This time there was less mugging, though Mr. Camarda, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., held up a sign reading, "Hi, Dad." Soichi Noguchi, who is from Japan, waved and held up a sign that, on one side, was a parody of the "get out of jail free" card from the game Monopoly.

It read "get out of quarantine free." The other side of the sign said "Out to Launch." He then unfurled a banner of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

This morning, Mr. Griffin said in a brief interview that it "looks like a really good day."

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan berates 'double standards'

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan berates 'double standards' Taiwan berates 'double standards'
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has accused the international community of double standards, for not taking the threat from China as seriously as the nuclear challenge posed by North Korea.

Mr Chen made much of the military threat to his island from mainland China.

Beijing believes Taiwan is nothing more than a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland.

It has always threatened to counter any move towards independence with force.

Taiwan's ambiguous status makes it difficult for President Chen to leave the island for official visits, as China puts a lot of effort into isolating him and his government.

So the president has resorted to using internet technology to enable him to take part in video conferences with journalists from overseas.

Speaking to a gathering in Tokyo, via a video link from Taipei, he was robust in his criticism of China and of the failure of some in the international community to recognise the threat it poses to security in the region.

While welcoming the efforts by the US and Japan to support Taiwan, he pointed out that six-party talks are going on in Beijing to try to resolve the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons while at the same time some European countries are trying to lift the embargo on selling arms to China.

In view of the fact that China has more than 700 missiles pointing at Taiwan, with 100 more being added each year, Mr Chen said that would indicate double standards.

And he added that the absence of any external threat to China should cause democratic nations to question Beijing's motives for the military build-up.
Story from BBC NEWS: