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Nation in brief

Nader advises Kerry on running mate choices

By wire services
Published May 24, 2004

BOSTON - Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said Sunday he had advised John Kerry to choose North Carolina Sen. John Edwards or Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt as his running mate on the Democratic ticket.

Kerry won't discuss whom he is considering for vice president, but his advisers have been examining Edwards and Gephardt, two of Kerry's rivals from the Democratic primaries.

"They're very careful," Nader said on ABC's This Week. "They're not going to cause him any embarrassment. And they do bring an additional voter support for him."

Kerry met with Nader in Washington on Wednesday, but didn't ask the third-party candidate to quit the presidential race despite widespread Democratic fears that his candidacy could ensure President Bush's re-election.

Nader rejected the idea of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona joining Kerry's ticket. Kerry has repeatedly praised McCain and many in Washington have speculated about the appeal of a Kerry-McCain ticket, but Nader said: "McCain really should be taken at his word. . . . He's not going to do it."

Nader also said he wouldn't support Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh for vice president because "he's a very soft Democrat."

Circus performer dies after falling 30 feet

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A circus performer who fell 30 feet onto a concrete floor during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show died from her injuries.

Dessi Espana, 32, was twirling on long chiffon scarves when the silky cloth gave way during Saturday's performance, witnesses said. She died later that night.

"We are starting an investigation into the death," police Sgt. Rick Klein said. "We don't suspect foul play but we will be trying to collect the rope or (part) that broke."

It was the first fatal accident in a Ringling Bros. circus in at least a decade, spokesman Mark Riddell said Sunday.

Espana was not using a safety harness because of the way she had to move in the performance, and chiffon acts traditionally don't use nets, Riddell said.

Reporters get subpoenas in CIA leak inquiry

NEW YORK - Tim Russert from NBC and a journalist from Time Inc. have received federal subpoenas to face questioning about the alleged leak of an undercover CIA weapons expert's identity, but both news organizations said Sunday they would fight the subpoenas.

The companies said the subpoenas came from a special grand jury investigating whether the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of the agent, Valerie Plame, after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, publicly challenged the White House's claim that Iraq had been trying to obtain uranium for nuclear weapons from Africa.

Justice Department guidelines for criminal prosecutions state that all avenues should be explored before reporters are subpoenaed or approached in an investigation. The issuing of new subpoenas for reporters may indicate that the investigation is nearing an end.

Journalists worry budget pressure hurts coverage

WASHINGTON - Journalists are growing more concerned that bottom-line financial pressures are "seriously hurting" the quality of news coverage, according to a survey taken at a time when news organizations face increased competition for readers and viewers.

A majority of national and local journalists say they think financial pressures are hurting coverage, said the survey released Sunday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

"Journalists are in a glummer mood than we've found them in the past," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "That view is much more prevalent where cutbacks have happened."

The number of national journalists who think bottom-line financial pressures are hurting coverage was 66 percent this year, compared with about 40 percent in a Pew survey from 1995.

Just under six in 10 local journalists were worried about financial pressures hurting quality, compared with one-third in 1995.

The survey was taken from March 10 through April 20 of 547 national and local journalists, both print and broadcast.

Boston archdiocese sees new wave of abuse claims

BOSTON - An attorney who represented dozens of people who claimed they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests says there are at least several dozen more with similar claims against the Boston Archdiocese.

Carmen Durso is among lawyers trying to determine the magnitude of the latest wave of claims stemming from the sex scandal that began to engulf the archdiocese in 2002.

Last year, the archdiocese reached an $85-million settlement with more than 550 people who said they were abused by priests. Durso represented 40 victims in that case.

Durso told the Associated Press on Sunday that the new claimants include people who had complained about sex abuse before, but "for one paperwork reason or other" missed a deadline to join the earlier settlement.

Archdiocese spokesman the Rev. Christopher Coyne said, "Whenever a claim is brought, we'll follow through with our policies and procedures and make sure we do everything we can to help victims and their families."

Durso noted the new wave of allegations also includes people who had been afraid to come forward. He said he had been in contact with lawyers who represent 40 to 50 alleged victims, but those numbers could rise.

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 01:00:32]


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