World Digest

WORLD DIGEST

December 04, 2005

Administration negotiating with Congress on torture ban

WASHINGTON -- After threatening to cast the first veto of the Bush presidency over efforts to outlaw torture of military prisoners, the White House has backed away from a showdown and is seeking a compromise with Congress.

A White House spokesman said yesterday that national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley has met three times over the past month with Sen. John McCain, chief sponsor of an amendment setting new restrictions on the U.S. treatment of war prisoners.

A McCain aide confirmed that the subject of those talks has been the anti-torture amendment, which passed the Senate by a landslide despite personal lobbying by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"They [administration officials] have assured me this will get worked out," said a senior Senate Republican aide who did not want to be identified because the matter was being negotiated in private.

Los Angeles Times

Remains exhumed from Lebanese grave

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Troops exhumed the remains of 25 bodies from a mass grave near a former Syrian military base in eastern Lebanon yesterday. An official said another 12 bodies -- most believed to be Lebanese soldiers -- were recently removed from a grave near Beirut for DNA testing. The identities of the bodies were not immediately known, but one security official said some appeared to be Lebanese soldiers killed in an October 1990 Syrian military offensive that defeated Christian-commanded army units of then-interim Lebanese Prime Minister Michel Aoun. Residents of the eastern Bekaa Valley town of Anjar, near the former headquarters of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, found the grave containing the 25 bodies last week, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the media. At least one of the bodies was dressed in a Lebanese soldier's uniform.

Activists protest global warming

MONTREAL --Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities worldwide yesterday to demand urgent action on global warming as delegates continued their work at an international climate change conference to review and update the Kyoto Protocol. Police said about 7,000 people marched in downtown Montreal. Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Crisis Coalition, delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the U.S. consulate in Montreal urging President Bush and Congress to help slow global warming.

Pope meets with Palestinian leader

VATICAN CITY --Pope Benedict XVI met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on yesterday and stressed the need to integrate all Palestinians in the peace process, the Vatican said -- an apparent reference to extremist elements blamed for recent violence. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, declined to elaborate on what the pontiff said the Palestinians must do to bring about peace. Violence marred primary elections across the Palestinian territories last week, but Abbas told reporters yesterday that he was working to "bring calm" to the region. Abbas also said that the pontiff with his "symbolic weight ... can carry out a decisive role for peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. At the end of their private 20-minute meeting in Benedict's library, Abbas invited the pope to visit the Holy Land, saying he would "be very welcome in Jerusalem and all the holy places." Benedict thanked him for the invitation.

U.N. program needs quake relief funds

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan --The World Food Program chief appealed yesterday for urgent funds to keep an airlift flying to quake-ravaged areas through the winter, calling it "the most difficult" logistical task the U.N. agency has ever faced. Fearing a second wave of deaths, soldiers and emergency workers have been racing to get food and proper shelter for survivors of the Oct. 8 quake that killed 87,000 people in Pakistan and India. Most of the deaths from the magnitude-7.6 temblor were in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in entirety by both. The WFP has accepted responsibility for feeding 1.3 million people, while 3 million are receiving assistance from the government and 150,000 from the Red Cross.

Christmas card sold for $16,000

LONDON --A 162-year-old Christmas card -- one of the first ever printed -- sold at an auction yesterday for $16,000. The hand-colored card, which shows a family celebrating around a table, is one of about 10 surviving from an original batch of 1,000 printed in 1843, auctioneer Henry Aldridge said. Sir Henry Cole, a Londoner who is generally recognized as the inventor of the commercial Christmas card, commissioned the cards. The card was originally sent to a Miss Mary Tripsack, a friend of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the wife of the poet Robert Browning.

From wire reports

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