News BriefsIsraeli Prosecutors, Maryland Officials Clash on Sheinbein Case THE WASHINGTON POST -- The diplomatic sparring over Samuel Sheinbein’s Israeli plea agreement intensified Wednesday as Israeli officials accused a Maryland prosecutor of betraying their confidence by announcing the deal and Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas Gansler countered that the Israeli prosecutor had agreed to the public disclosure.
Gansler revealed Tuesday that Sheinbein was prepared to plead guilty to murder in Israel, to which he fled in 1997, three days after the burned and dismembered body of Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr., 19, was found in the garage of a Montgomery County home.
Gansler said Israeli prosecutors told him that in return for the guilty plea, they had agreed to recommend that Sheinbein serve a 24-year prison sentence in Israel.
Irit Kohn, director of the Israeli Justice Minstry’s Department of International Affairs, told Gansler in a letter released Wednesday that “we view the early publication of the agreement and its details at this time, despite our request not to do so, as a breach of professional faith.”
In a reply Wednesday, Gansler wrote Kohn that he was “shocked” at being excluded from plea negotiations and said that he had scheduled his news conference only after being “assured” by Hadassah Naor, the Israeli prosecutor handling the case, that the Israelis did not object.
Scientists Scout Possible Site For Nuclear Tomb LOS ANGELES TIMES -- yucca mountain, nevada
Squinting against the enveloping gloom, engineer Jim Niggemyer boards the dusty yellow mining train for its long slow descent into the depths of America’s nuclear solution -- through the twisting tunnel that may one day lead to a nuclear-age pharaoh’s tomb.
Far out in the bleak desert 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, government researchers are busy drilling, heating and analyzing the depths of this ancient mountain for its likely future as the nation’s first high-level nuclear graveyard.
They toil for a long-term goal: to transform Yucca Mountain by 2010 into the permanent home to 77,000 tons of highly lethal waste -- spent uranium and plutonium byproducts from nuclear power plants, nuclear submarines and government test projects dating back to the testing of the first atomic bomb.
Housed in corrosion-resistant alloy canisters the size of compact cars, the fearsome cargo is so radioactive that momentary exposure would mean death within days, if not hours.
The nation’s spent nuclear fuel is now stored at military bases and in cooling pools and dry storage at more than 100 reactors in 34 states. These sites require constant monitoring and repair.
Niggemyer and his colleagues know that the government is banking on the Yucca Mountain Project to hold the fuel for a virtual eternity. With its remote location and arid climate, officials estimate that the desert repository can isolate the waste for at least 10,000 years -- at the end of which, they predict, much of the radioactivity will have diminished.
Timor Rivals Plan for War, Peace
THE WASHINGTON POST -- maliana, indonesia
In the westernmost towns of East Timor, armed militias are preparing for war if that is the only way to block this territory’s separation from Indonesia. In the mountainous east, guerrillas who support independence are hoping for peace.
At militia checkpoints here in the western Badlands, stronghold of the anti-independence movement, tough-looking young men with spears, daggers, machetes and homemade rifles demand identification papers. Anyone connected with the United Nations or pro-independence groups is turned back.
A contrasting mood prevails near the eastern end of the province, where the Armed Force for the Liberation of East Timor is preparing to celebrate the fulfillment of a 24-year-old dream of independence in a referendum set for Monday. “It was a very long and difficult road to get here,” said rebel deputy commander Taur Matan Ruak, 43. “I never dreamt the people would one day have an opportunity to vote.”
The difference in attitudes between the armed groups illustrates the tensions pulling at East Timor, a former Portuguese territory in dispute since Indonesia invaded in 1975 and annexed it a year later. The invasion set off civil strife and abuses by the Indonesian military that are thought to have cost more than 200,000 lives.
Bennett Apologizes to Utah NAACP THE WASHINGTON POST -- Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, has apologized for his comment that the only things that could keep Texas Gov. George W. Bush from the GOP nomination are a deadly accident or a salacious scandal, like “some woman comes forward, let’s say some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered within the last 18 months.”
The Utah NAACP demanded an apology. On Monday, the organization got just that after meeting with the senator for an hour. Bennett apologized in the meeting and later repeated the apology before reporters.
“When I make a mistake, it’s a beaut,” Bennett said. “There’s no question this was a mistake. I had no intention of offending anyone.”
NAACP leaders said they accepted his apology.
Bennett made the Bush comments during a meeting this month with the editorial board of the Ogden Standard-Examiner. Shortly afterward, Bennett issued a statement in which he did not apologize but suggested that he “certainly regrets” the comments.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP’s Salt Lake City branch, said it was wrong for Bennett to single out black women and pushed for a further apology.
Bennett said he’d been thinking about the movie “Primary Colors,” which includes a fictional account of a president who has an affair with a young black woman who becomes pregnant.