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News Briefs

Judge Rules U.S. Cannot Seek Death Penalty Against Moussaoui

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- ALEXANDRIA, VA.

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that the government cannot seek the death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui and barred prosecutors from attempting to link Moussaoui to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, saying he was only a “remote or minor participant” in al-Qaida’s plans for terrorism directed at Americans.

The ruling by Judge Leonie M. Brinkema was a sharp rebuke to the Justice Department, which had previously attempted to portray Moussaoui as a central figure in the Sept. 11 conspiracy, whose actions could have prevented the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Moussaoui had been the only person facing trial in an American court for conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks.

While refusing to agree to a defense request to dismiss the indictment entirely, Brinkema said that she could not allow prosecutors to go forward with the heart of their case against Moussaoui because of the government’s refusal to allow Moussaoui and his lawyers to interview captured Qaida prisoners. The witnesses, she said, would probably bolster his defense.

“The government will be foreclosed at trial from making any argument, or offering any evidence, suggesting that the defendant had any involvement in, or knowledge of, the Sept. 11 attacks,” Brinkema wrote on Thursday.

Schwarzenegger Apologizes For Behavior Towards Women

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- SAN DIEGO

Faced with new allegations of sexual misconduct, Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged on Thursday that “wherever there is smoke there is fire” and apologized for having “behaved badly sometimes” toward women.

Schwarzenegger, who has been surging in the polls in California’s recall election, issued the apology here at the beginning of a statewide bus tour. The six-bus tour, with the international media in tow, is part of the actor’s final push to replace Gov. Gray Davis.

It was the first time during the extraordinary recall campaign that the actor and former bodybuilder expressed remorse for sexual indiscretions, having previously downplayed allegations of groping and mistreatment of women as exaggerations, mistruths, or provocations.

“Yes it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets,” Schwarzenegger said, “and I have done things that were not right, which I thought then was playful but now I recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended I want to say to them, I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize because this is not what I’m trying to do.”

The announcement came in response to a front-page Los Angeles Times article Thursday about six women who said that they were the victims of unwanted sexual advances by Schwarzenegger when they came into contact with him on movie sets, studio offices and a gymnasium.

Coetzee, Critic of Apartheid, Wins Nobel for Literature

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- PARIS

John Maxwell Coetzee, a widely acclaimed South African novelist who has often used the apartheid system and his country’s post-apartheid transition to mirror the bleakness of the human condition, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for literature Thursday by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.

Coetzee, 63, who writes in English under the name of J.M. Coetzee and has long been considered a contender for the prize, became Africa’s third Nobel laureate for literature, after Wole Soyinka of Nigeria in 1986 and Nadine Gordimer of South Africa in 1991. This year’s other Nobel prizes will be announced next week, including the Peace Prize on Oct. 10.

In its citation, the academy spoke of the “well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance” of Coetzee’s novels.

Coetzee’s best-known novels are “Waiting for the Barbarians”; “Life and Times of Michael K,” which won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize in 1983; “The Master of Petersburg”; and “Disgrace,” which was awarded the Booker Prize in 1999, making Coetzee the first writer to win the prize twice. He has also published books of essays and two autobiographical volumes, “Boyhood” and “Youth.”

Hedge Fund Employee Pleads Guilty to After-Hours Trading

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- NEW YORK

A former trader at a major hedge fund pleaded guilty on Thursday to after-hours trading in mutual fund shares, becoming the second executive to face criminal charges in the sweeping investigation of fund trading practices.

Steven B. Markovitz, until recently a trader with the $4 billion Millennium Partners in Manhattan, admitted that he bought and sold shares of mutual funds after the market had closed but at the 4 p.m. price. He is cooperating with the investigation led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Under a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Markovitz also agreed to be barred for life from working for an investment adviser or mutual fund and to pay an amount yet to be determined.

The commission said that at least three broker-dealers had executed Markovitz’s orders but failed to name them in its settlement. Officials at the commission and the attorney general’s office declined to identify the brokers, citing their continuing investigation.

Spitzer said that he would probably bring additional criminal or civil charges against executives at hedge funds, brokerage firms and mutual funds.

“It’s moving in many different directions,” Spitzer said.