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News Briefs

China Jails Catholic Bishop


A 79-year-old bishop in China’s underground Roman Catholic church has been arrested in Beijing, the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reported Monday.

Shi Enxiang, the bishop of Yixian in China’s northern Hebei province, had been in hiding from Chinese authorities since 1996 and was arrested on April 13, Good Friday, on a visit to Beijing, the foundation said. Shi, ordained a bishop in 1982, has spent nearly 30 years in jail and was most recently incarcerated from 1990 to 1993.

China’s constitution guarantees freedom of worship. But the Communist leaders have always been suspicious of organized religions, which they view as threats to state power. They have grown particularly wary of religious activity outside government-approved churches over the past several years as Chinese turn to beliefs beyond communism to bring meaning to their lives.

China’s leaders have established a state-sanctioned church for Chinese Catholics, run by Beijing-appointed prelates who reject the legitimacy of the pope. But an estimated 12 million Chinese loyal to Rome worship at clandestine prayer meetings, often held in private homes.

Bush Rates High in Polls


President Bush receives solid marks for the way he has handled himself in office, but the American people question some of his basic priorities and say his policies are tilted far more toward wealthy individuals and corporate interests than to people like themselves, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As he nears the 100-day mark in his presidency, Bush is rated somewhat higher than President Bill Clinton but below where Ronald Reagan and Bush’s father were at similar points in their presidencies. In the poll, 63 percent said they approved of the way Bush is handling the job, slightly up since last month, while 32 percent disapproved.

On individual issues, his record is mixed. His strongest ratings came in international affairs (62 percent approve), where he benefited from his handling of the recent standoff with China, and on education (60 percent approve), a top priority about which he has spoken frequently during his travels this spring.

But fewer than half of those surveyed (47 percent) said they approved of his handling of the environment, an area where the administration’s policies have drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups. The poll also found a wide gap between the public’s desire to protect the environment and their perception of Bush’s commitment to do so.

Koizumi on His Way to Becoming Japanese Prime Minister


Quixotic reformer Junichiro Koizumi is virtually certain to become Japan’s next prime minister after a groundswell of grass-roots support over the weekend made his election as ruling-party president Tuesday all but inevitable.

Normally obedient rank-and-file members of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for most of the past five decades, defied power brokers and slammed home the message that without a new way of doing things, the LDP can’t survive.

“We’re in a crisis situation,” said Tomiji Okamoto, chief secretary of the LDP’s Tokushima branch. “If the LDP doesn’t change, this country is in really big trouble.”

Koizumi secured 123 of 141 votes allocated to local party chapters in the first phase of voting conducted over the weekend. His chief rival, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, collected just 15. The huge margin effectively obligates LDP lawmakers to choose Koizumi as their president in second-phase voting Tuesday, or risk a potentially fatal split.