Second tycoon trains for space flight
MOSCOW (AP) - A South African Internet tycoon is training for space flight in hopes of becoming the second paid tourist to ride into orbit, Russian officials and a spokesman for the multimillionaire said Thursday. Mark Shuttleworth, 27, is undergoing tests and training at the Star City cosmonaut training center outside Moscow but has not signed a contract with the Russian space agency, his spokesman Andrew High said. Andrei Maiboroda, a spokesman for the cosmonaut training center, said Shuttleworth was undergoing a one-month orientation, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. If he ends up traveling in space, Shuttleworth would be the second so-called space tourist the Russians have taken.

California businessman Denis Tito reportedly paid $20 million to Russia's cash-strapped space agency for an eight-day trip to the international space station in April and May.

[Comment: - Note that the Russians did this while snobbishly ignoring NASA's and American's efforts to forbid them from allowing Tito to go for the space tourism-visit].


Microsoft, Justice Dept. in talks
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings in September into Microsoft's business practices that are the subject of a 4-year-old antitrust case against the company. David Carle, a spokesman for the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Tuesday that a date and witness list have not been set, but that Microsoft's conduct will be part of the focus. If Microsoft officials testify, it would be the second time they have had to answer to senators for their business practices. At issue is the company's upcoming Windows XP operating system. Critics say it bundles too many features that were once separate products, forcing customers to use Microsoft's products. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., planned to ask Microsoft Tuesday to allow users to remove those extra features, and to ask the Justice Department to make that a condition of any future settlement.
Record drivers killed in work zones
WASHINGTON (AP) - A record number of people are being killed in highway work zones as motorists speed through construction areas - confused, frustrated or both by ever-increasing miles of narrow lanes and orange cones. In 1999, 872 people died in work zones, more than 700 of them motorists or passengers in vehicles speeding through the construction sites, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The previous record: 828 in 1994. Increased federal highway spending is fueling a boom in road construction. But the orange cones and lane shifts are unwelcome sights, particularly for motorists already crawling on overcrowded highways. The number of deaths in work-zone crashes grew 25% between 1997 and 1999, as the amount of money spent on highway construction rose. Federal spending on roads grew from $49 billion to $58 billion over the same two-year period, an increase of 18%, and rose to a projected $65 billion in the current fiscal year, according to The Road Information Program, a research group financed by the construction industry.
Court upholds minute of silence law
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A law requiring Virginia public school students to open the day with a minute of silence is constitutional, a divided federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. In a 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American Civil Liberties Union's argument that the law is an unconstitutional attempt to reintroduce prayer in public schools. "Because the state imposes no substantive requirement during the silence, it is not religiously coercive," Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote in the majority opinion. The ruling upheld a lower court's opinion that listing prayer among the students' options does not amount to government establishment of religion. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Robert King said the law erodes the separation between church and state.
Ameritrade shows net income gain
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Ameritrade Holding Corp., the Omaha-based online discount brokerage, eked out a profit for the third quarter ending June 29, the company said Tuesday. Ameritrade had a net income of $70,000, despite what chief executive Joe Moglia called "worse-than-expected top line pressure across the industry." Although the gain was considered break-even, Moglia said it met the company's commitment to have positive cash flow for the quarter. There was no per share income for the quarter, but the result beat expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call, who predicted a loss of a penny per share. During the third quarter last year, Ameritrade lost 9 cents per share. This year's third quarter included a $26 million payment to help reduce the company's debt.
Honeywell earnings plunge
MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Honeywell International Corp.'s earnings plunged 91.8% in the second quarter, citing a soft economy and expenses related to its unsuccessful efforts to merge with General Electric Co. The results narrowly beat Wall Street's lowered expectations and its stock rose. The high-tech manufacturer said Tuesday it earned $50 million, or 6 cents a share, for the three months ended June 30, down from $617 million, or 77 cents a share, in 2000. Excluding $651 million in special charges, its income was $450 million, or 55 cents a share, compared to an adjusted income of $605 million, or 75 cents a share, for the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call revised their estimates to 53 cents a share after Honeywell projected second quarter earnings of 53 cents to 55 cents a share.


Britain, Ireland see IRA disarmament
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - Britain and Ireland plan to yield to more Catholic demands in hopes of finally getting the Irish Republican Army to start disarming, according to details of a joint plan to save Northern Ireland's peace accord. Officials from both governments briefed journalists Tuesday on key parts of the paper expected to be presented later this week, possibly Friday, to parties that back the Good Friday pact of 1998. The two governments began drafting the plan July 14 after a week of secretive negotiations in England alongside three parties in Northern Ireland's joint Catholic-Protestant administration. That coalition, which is at the heart of the 1998 accord, threatens to collapse soon over IRA disarmament. The major Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, insists it will stop sharing power with the IRA-linked Sinn Fein unless the IRA moves by Aug. 11 to start disarming. Sinn Fein has insisted the IRA will respond only if Britain moves on several fronts first.

Indonesia's new leader takes over
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Seizing the reins of power once held by her father, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri began her first full day in office Tuesday. But the presidential palace was still occupied by her ousted predecessor who has refused to leave. The capital Jakarta and other major cities were calm and the currency markets continued to soar on news of the change in leadership in the world's fourth-most populous country. Meanwhile, Indonesia's elites jockeyed for the vice president's position and Cabinet posts in Megawati's new government. Party leaders, generals and other politicians filed through her downtown office congratulating her and discussing appointments. The legislature on Monday voted unanimously to sack Abdurrahman Wahid and elect Megawati, the 54-year-old daughter of founding president Sukarno. Wahid had repeatedly warned that his ouster would trigger violent protests and the immediate secession of six restive provinces, but that hasn't happened.

Update: ASEAN says reduce U.S.-China tension
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Southeast Asian nations stressed that peace in the region is linked to stable U.S.-China ties, as Secretary of State Colin Powell returned here Tuesday for the first time since the Vietnam War. Powell is attending regional security talks, which begin Wednesday. The meeting will include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its 23 ``dialogue partners'' _ including the United States, China, Russia, North and South Korea and the European Union. In a statement, ASEAN foreign ministers said stable relations among the major powers, "particularly the U.S. and China," were important to peace in the region. The ministers hope to persuade Powell that Washington should remain committed to Southeast Asia's security and not be preoccupied with North Asia. The region's foreign ministers are likely to convey their message directly to Powell and Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.

Rebels attack Sri Lanka airport
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Tamil rebels attacked Sri Lanka's international airport and main air base Tuesday, blowing up a dozen aircraft with explosives and mortars and battling soldiers in one of their most audacious assaults in 18 years of civil war. Terrified tourists and Sri Lankan travelers scattered in the terminal, diving for cover behind ticket counters and luggage carts as explosions and weapons fire blasted outside. The six-hour battle ended when the last three of the 13 rebels blew themselves up with explosives strapped to their bodies. The pre-dawn assault, launched on the anniversary of bloody 1983 riots, left 13 rebels and seven soldiers dead and devastated the national carrier, Sri Lanka Airlines. Hours later, the government retaliated with airstrikes on bases of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the northern Jaffna peninsula. At the airport, the 13 rebels' bloodied bodies lay in pools of blood on a tarmac slippery with oil leaking from wrecked planes. Seven military men were also killed.


Adobe calls for programmer's release
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Software maker Adobe Systems Inc. joined with some of its sharpest critics Monday in calling for the release of a Russian computer programmer who was arrested last week and charged with circumventing an Adobe program for electronic books. Adobe said it had decided the prosecution of Dmitry Sklyarov was not the best way to enforce the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law aimed at protecting the legal rights of publishers of online content. It was not immediately clear whether federal prosecutors would drop the case. Adobe's announcement came after executives met with members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a free-speech and privacy organization that has rallied support for Sklyarov. Though the organization canceled a formal protest it had planned outside Adobe's headquarters Monday, about 30 people gathered anyway to complain that Sklyarov was unfairly arrested because he works for a company engaged in a business dispute with Adobe.


Microsoft meets with Justice Dept.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Opening a possible avenue for settlement, Microsoft lawyers met Monday with Justice Department officials for the first time since federal appeals judges set aside the court-ordered breakup of the software giant. The two sides discussed procedures for renewed talks in the historic antitrust case, according to a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York, one of the 18 states that are suing Microsoft. Spokeswoman Juanita Scarlett said Microsoft's lawyers met with Justice antitrust chief Charles A. James as well as Spitzer. Two other attorneys general in the case, Iowa's Tom Miller and Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, also attended. The participants refused Monday to discuss the meeting. Over the course of the four-year case, the two sides have held extensive negotiations over a possible settlement - each time falling short of a deal. The meeting came just days after both sides made overtures.


Judge certifies suit against Compaq
HOUSTON (AP) - A Beaumont judge Monday granted class action status to a lawsuit accusing Compaq Computer Corp. of knowingly selling machines with a data corruption defect. State District Judge Gary Sanderson ruled the 1999 lawsuit against the No. 2 personal computer maker "has all the hallmarks of a proper class action." The judge said the "several hundred thousand" Compaq computer owners who may have been affected don't stand to benefit by suing individually. "All theories of recovery produce potential damages of only a few hundred dollars per unit and even complete refunds would amount to only a thousand dollars or so per person, far too little to motivate any individual to bear the expense of suing Compaq on the defect at issue," Sanderson wrote. "Consumer protection actions involving relatively small per unit recoveries are especially well suited for class treatment." Compaq spokesman Arch Currid said the company will appeal the judge's certification.


Judges question Internet lawsuits
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Judges questioned a government attorney Monday about whether it was possible for public library computers to block children's access to pornography without also blocking access to important information. The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Library Association have filed lawsuits challenging the Children's Internet Protection Act. It would block federal technology grants for libraries unless they install filters to keep children from viewing pornography. The ACLU and library association said the filters would prevent library patrons from viewing Web pages that included constitutionally protected speech. The three-judge panel Monday heard arguments on a government motion to dismiss the lawsuits. The judges did not say when they would rule. Libraries have until July 2002 to comply with the law.


Study: Parents don't rely on 'V-Chip'
LOS ANGELES (AP - July 25, 2001) - Parents rely more on television ratings and less on the high-tech "V-chip" to choose the shows their children watch, according to a survey released Tuesday. While 40% of American families own a TV set with a V-chip installed to block designated programs with sex or violence, only 17% of those parents use the device, the Kaiser Family Foundation survey found. That means just 7% of all parents have relied on the V-chip, according to the survey. In comparison, more than half of all parents have used TV ratings. "A year and a half after its introduction, the V-chip is being used by a small minority of parents," said foundation president Drew Altman. "TV ratings are more of a mainstream resource for concerned moms and dads." Most parents, more than four out of five, were concerned that their children are being exposed to too much sex and violence on TV and believed that children's behavior is affected by it, the survey found.


Meteor shower lights northeast sky
(AP) - People throughout the Northeast flooded emergency centers with phone calls Monday evening after seeing bright lights in the sky and hearing loud noises. The likely cause was a meteor shower, authorities said. Sightings were reported from Virginia to New York. "We originally got a report of a plane crash and now it seems there were multiple meteors coming down," said supervisor Tara Dolzani of the Schuylkill County communications center in Pottsville. Some people reported explosions or thunder, and felt their homes shake. In Montoursville, Pa., there was a report of a "big red ball" in the sky and broken windows from a sonic boom, a state police dispatcher said. Alexander Wolszczan, an astronomy professor at Pennsylvania State University, said that the thunder or shaking that people felt could have resulted from a sound wave produced by a meteor exploding in the earth's atmosphere.


Pope, Bush discuss embryo research
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) - Pope John Paul II urged President Bush to bar using human embryos for medical research, saying Monday that America has a moral responsibility to reject actions that "devalue and violate human life." Bush said later that he was not surprised by the pope's admonition and will take it into consideration as he makes his decision on whether to allow federal funding for such research. "He's sent a consistent word throughout the (Catholic) church and society that we ought to take into account the preciousness of life," Bush said. Bush made his comments at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The 81-year-old pontiff and Bush met behind closed doors at the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo in the foothills south of Rome. Bush said John Paul did not raise the subject of stem cell research during their private session, but focused on foreign policy and Bush's meeting Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Trading Messages

Pope Meets With Bush for First Time, Criticizes Stem Cell Research (The Associated Press)

C A S T E L G A N D O L F O, Italy, July 23 -- Pope John Paul II urged U.S. President George W. Bush in their first meeting to bar creation of human embryos for medical research, saying today that America has a moral responsibility to reject actions that "devalue and violate human life."

The pontiff's remarks, made after a closed-door discussion with Bush at the papal summer residence south of Rome, touched upon Bush's pending decision on whether to allow the use of U.S. government funds for potentially breakthrough medical research on stem cells from human embryos.

John Paul, stooped and frail in his chair, after the meeting read a statement to Bush and his entourage. The pope lamented "evils such as euthanasia, infanticide, and, most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos destined to destruction in the process."

"A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception to natural death," the pope said.

The Key to Humanity's Secrets? Scientists believe research using stem cells could unlock the cures for many diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, diabetes and spinal cord injuries. However, abortion opponents say harvesting the stem cells requires the death of an embryo, which many regard as human life. The Roman Catholic hierarchy is staunchly opposed to such studies.

In contrast to the specific objection John Paul raised, embryos involved in the research that Bush is considering are not created for scientific study but are taken from fertility clinic surpluses that would otherwise be discarded.

Bush, who also read a prepared statement after the meeting at Castel Gandolfo, thanked the pope for reminding Americans that their prosperity "must be matched with compassion and moral purpose." "Always to all you have carried the gospel of life, which welcomes the stranger and protects the weak and the innocent," said Bush. "Every nation -- including my own -- benefits from hearing and heeding this message of conscience."

Bush sat ramrod straight in his chair, hands folded in his lap. His entourage included first lady Laura Bush and their daughter Barbara, 19. Though Methodists, like the president, the Bush women both followed old Catholic tradition and covered their hair with black lace mantillas.

Busy Day in Italy

Before their statements, Bush gave John Paul a book of poetry. They stood together on the balcony of the pope's library, overlooking the clear blue waters of Lake Albano, and Bush commented: "On a hot day it looks like a place one would go swimming."

Bush had not planned to ask the pope about the emotional stem-cell question that divides disease sufferers, scientists, ethicists and anti-abortion activists. He has promised a decision soon on federal funding for the research, but aides say no announcement is imminent.

Also on Monday, Bush was meeting with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi before attending a dinner held by Ciampi at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Ciampi greeted Bush in a cobblestone courtyard at the presidential palace, which was originally built as a summer residence for popes at the end of the 16th century. The two leaders stood together at the end of a red carpet while the U.S. and Italian national anthems were played.

A Friendlier Reception

Bush, who has been courting Catholic voters, has spoken of how much he looked forward to meeting the frail 81-year-old John Paul, whose 23-year pontificate has spanned five American presidencies. Bush's papal audience promised to be much more cordial than any former

President Clinton ever enjoyed -- primarily because this new American president shares John Paul's opposition to abortion rights.

In an unusually sharp attack, the Vatican had condemned Clinton's veto of a bill banning certain late-term abortions as "shameful." In contrast, it welcomed the new administration's move to bar U.S. funds to international family planning groups involved in abortion. And it would certainly be receptive to Bush's initiative to bring religious groups into government-funded charity efforts.


Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may

not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


[© Patrick Nsionu 2001, New York]


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