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Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2003

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September 18, 2003

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London

'Sexed up' dossier story had errors

A British Broadcasting Corp. reporter acknowledged Wednesday that he made several errors in a report that accused the government of "sexing up" an intelligence dossier on Iraq and set off a fierce dispute with the government.

BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan apologized to a judicial inquiry for indirectly identifying his source, biological weapons expert David Kelly, to a member of Parliament. Kelly apparently killed himself shortly after being publicly identified as the official quoted in the report.

Gilligan also said he was wrong to attribute particular phrases in the report to his then-unidentified single source. He acknowledged that he should have run the story by Prime Minister Tony Blair's office before broadcast.

Geneva

Experts say ozone hole reaches record size

The ozone hole over the Antarctic this year has reached the record size of 10.8 million square miles set three years ago, the United Nations' weather organization said Wednesday.

Measurements over and near Antarctica show that ozone decreased more rapidly this year than in previous years and that the size of the ozone hole was as large as it was in September 2000, the World Meteorological Organization said.

The hole could continue to grow to its largest size ever in the next couple of weeks, the WMO said, but it also could suddenly decrease.

The hole, a thinner-than-normal area in the protective layer of gas high up in the earth's atmosphere, has started forming at the end of Antarctic winter every year since the mid-1980s.

Tokyo

N. Korea: Controversy over abductions closed

North Korea accused Japan on Wednesday of plotting "aggression" and blamed it for souring relations a year after a historic summit that some saw as a step toward ending a decades-old Cold War rivalry.

In the last year, talks over the North Korean abduction of Japanese citizens have come to a standstill, while Japan has started to bulk up its military and missile defense systems amid growing concerns about the North's suspected nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea insisted that the abduction problem in the 1970s and '80s was an "abnormal isolated case" and criticized Japan for "making much fuss."

Five survivors were later allowed to return to Japan, but without their children, and have since become the focus of a tug-of-war between the two governments.

Washington, D.C.

Lawmakers seek funds for fair elections

Authors of a major election overhaul plan signed into law last year said Wednesday they were asking congressional leaders and the White House to approve an extra $1.86 billion to ensure that next year's elections would be fair.

House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the recent California court ruling delaying the recall vote there because some counties still used error-prone punch-card ballots demonstrated the need to move quickly.

"There is a crisis. There is an urgency," Hoyer said.

They said their effort to win the extra money, begun before the California court decision, had received a sympathetic hearing from House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and their main problem now was to win White House support.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Hispanic population growing fastest in South

The nation's Hispanic population is keeping up its explosive growth of the 1990s, led by states in the South and West, the first detailed Census Bureau estimates since the 2000 national head count show.

Analysts cited higher birth rates for Hispanics and a continued influx of new immigrants looking for jobs -- even during a period when the U.S. economy slowed -- as key reasons for the increase.

Georgia topped the list of states with the fastest-growing Hispanic populations, adding nearly 17 percent between July 2000 and July 2002 to reach 516,000 residents, according to Census Bureau estimates being released today.

North Carolina's Hispanic population grew by 16 percent, while Nevada, Kentucky and South Carolina were next.

Washington, D.C.

Ashcroft to declassify library record searches

The Justice Department will disclose previously classified information on how frequently the FBI has sought records from libraries and businesses under the Patriot Act anti-terrorism law, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft decided on Wednesday.

Ashcroft told the president of the American Library Assn., Carla Hayden of Baltimore, in a telephone call that he was removing the secrecy surrounding one of the most contentious provisions of the law.

"We're very gratified that the American public is now going to know what is happening in public libraries," said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the library association's Washington office.

Miami

Investigators conclude death wasn't lynching

The hanging of a black man that raised fears of a lynching in a small, rural town was a suicide, state investigators concluded Wednesday.

Feraris "Ray" Golden was found hanging from a tree in Belle Glade on May 28. Police and the medical examiner found no signs of a struggle, but rumors in the rural farming town persisted that he had been lynched.

State investigators were called in after a public inquest in Palm Beach County in July in which a judge Golden died by a suicide.

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