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Rice leaves no doubt: 'Won't run' for president

By wire services
Published March 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday ruled out running for president, responding to speculation fueled by a recent poll showing support for a Rice candidacy.

Rice last week told the Washington Times : "I have never wanted to run for anything," but she seemed to leave the door open to the possibility.

She closed the door in appearances on Sunday talk shows, telling NBC's Meet the Press , "I will not run for president of the United States."

"I won't run," she told ABC's This Week . "I won't. How's that? Is that categorical enough?"

Rice leaves for Asia today on her first trip to the region as secretary of state. She will solicit help to convince North Korea and Iran to end their nuclear weapons ambitions. North Korea will dominate her meetings in China, Japan and South Korea, and she will renew efforts to persuade China to crack down on companies selling advanced weaponry and expertise to Iran.

In India, her first stop in the week-long visit, and Pakistan, Rice hopes to build on early peace overtures between the two nuclear powers that have long faced off over Kashmir.

Rice also will travel to Afghanistan. In Kabul, she plans to meet with President Hamid Kharzai to discuss ways the United States can help ensure successful parliamentary elections this year.

Ridge accused of pushing for favorable reports

WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department's former independent watchdog says he was twice summoned last year to Secretary Tom Ridge's office and asked why his reports criticizing the agency were being sent to Congress and whether they could be presented more favorably to the department.

Ridge "was trying to get me not to give things to Congress and also to try to spin reports in a way most favorable to the department, and I resisted both of those," former Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in an interview.

In a statement, Ridge said: "I did not always agree with the tactics, interpretations, conclusions or recommendations of the inspector general. At no time, however, did I ever ask him to suppress or withhold a specific report."

Ervin's statements are "untrue and deserve no further comment," said Ridge, who left as secretary last month. The Associated Press approached Ervin about his meetings with Ridge after the dates turned up on Ridge's daily appointment calendars.

College student is new crossword puzzle king

STAMFORD, Conn. - The bookish world of crossword puzzle aficionados has a fresh-faced new champion. Tyler Hinman, 20, became the youngest champion in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament's 28-year-history Sunday after beating 450 competitors.

"I can't even celebrate," said Hinman, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. "I'm not old enough to go to a pub and drink myself stupid."

Al Sanders, 46, an engineer from Fort Collins, Colo., finished the puzzle first, but missed "Zolaesque" for the clue "stark and richly detailed, as writing."

Hinman said he will spend his $4,000 prize on tuition.

Great white shark kills two tank mates

MONTEREY, Calif. - The great white shark that has enthralled throngs of curious spectators at the Monterey Bay Aquarium since its arrival six months ago has proved lethal for some of its tank mates. Over 13 days, the infant great white sank its razor-sharp teeth into two soupfin sharks, killing both.

The recent incidents have prompted calls and letters questioning whether a predator such as a great white is suitable for a captive aquarium environment.

The great white, the only one on exhibit in the world, is the first to survive in captivity for more than a few days, and the aquarium wants to keep the shark as long as it can, then return it to the wild.

Thanks to the shark's residency, aquarium attendance is up 30 percent. Visitors did not witness either shark attack.

[Last modified March 14, 2005, 01:29:07]

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