Nation in brief
Bush's Vatican visit got political, according to Catholic newspaper
By wire services
Published June 13, 2004
On his recent trip to Rome, President Bush asked a top Vatican official to push American bishops to speak out more about political issues including same-sex marriage, according to a report in the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper.
In a column posted Friday evening on the paper's Web site, John L. Allen Jr., its correspondent in Rome and the dean of Vatican journalists, wrote that Bush had made the request in a June 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state.
Allen wrote that others in the meeting confirmed that the president had pledged aggressive efforts "on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican's help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken." Sodano did not respond, Allen reported, citing the same unnamed sources.
A spokesman for the Vatican declined Saturday to disclose the contents of the meeting, which followed the president's brief meeting with the pope. Jeanie Mamo, a spokeswoman for the White House, said, "They had a good, private discussion. They discussed a number of priorities of shared concern, and the president's and the Vatican's positions on these issues are well known."
Cassini space probe sends data on Phoebe
NASA's Cassini space probe confirmed Saturday that it had completed a flyby of Saturn's moon Phoebe, coming within 1,285 miles of the small, dark body.
The craft's main antenna was pointing away from Earth during the flyby Friday afternoon. Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., did not receive word of the craft's successful pass until 10:52 a.m. Saturday, when the craft reoriented itself and began transmitting pictures and data back to mission control.
Most of the data and pictures will be released Monday, but the early unprocessed images show that Phoebe is a badly pitted rock festooned with craters and large gashes.
"This is an extremely battered, old surface we're looking at," said science team member Torrance Johnson. "There are deep craters from other debris that over eons have pockmarked the surface. It's roughly round, but it's really chipped away."
Religion saved Nichols from death, lawyers think
McALESTER, Okla. - Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols may have been spared the death penalty for a second time because a jailhouse conversion to Christianity gained him sympathy, lawyers in the case said Saturday.
The state prosecution, staged in an attempt to secure the death penalty at a cost expected to soar to $10-million, ended with the same sentence Nichols received in federal court six years ago: life.
Juror Daniel Cochran said as many as eight of the 12 jurors agreed to impose a death sentence, but declined to disclose further details of their deliberations.
"We all agreed that what went on in the jury room would stay in the jury room," he said.
But lawyers for the prosecution and defense agreed jurors were influenced by Nichols' conversion. Nichols was also portrayed as answering to Timothy McVeigh, the bombing's mastermind.
California sniper killed after wounding three
IRVINE, Calif. - A sniper opened fire Saturday at a rural Southern California recycling center, wounding a worker and a deputy, then fled before being killed hours later in a shootout after deputies spotted him from a helicopter.
The helicopter pilot was wounded in the leg, but all three victims were expected to survive, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.
The sniper, a middle-aged man wearing green, Army-style fatigues, began firing at employees at the Baker Canyon Green Recycling Center about 11:10 a.m., Amormino said.
The sniper fled the business, and deputies searched for him for hours in the area east of Irvine Lake in eastern Orange County. The gunman was killed near a trailer park. Deputies found a .22-caliber rifle near the body.
Amormino said deputies hadn't determined a motive for the attack.
Ronald Reagan's tomb at library sealed
LOS ANGELES - Ronald Reagan's body was sealed inside a tomb Saturday at his hilltop presidential library after a week of mourning and remembrance by world leaders and regular Americans.
Workers closed the underground crypt shortly before 3 a.m. while a handful of Secret Service agents, library personnel and mortuary representatives watched, said Duke Blackwood, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
[Last modified June 12, 2004, 23:54:53]
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