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Briefs (left)

Government Loses
Appeal of Tobacco Ruling

By Linda Greenhouse

In the latest setback to the federal government’s case against the tobacco industry, the Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear an appeal of a decision that sharply limited the monetary damages the industry can be required to pay if the government prevails in its legal theory that the industry has been run as a “racketeering enterprise” that falsely promoted its product as harmless.

A nine-month trial of the government’s civil lawsuit ended in June in federal district court here. Judge Gladys Kessler is expected to rule in the coming months on the tobacco companies’ liability and, if she finds them liable, on the remedy to which the government is entitled.

It was the remedy question that was before the Supreme Court on Monday. The government filed its lawsuit in 1999 seeking to recoup what it considered to be the tobacco industry’s ill-gotten gains, estimated at $280 billion.

Families Press Romney
On Returning Guard to Mass.

By Scott Helmanf

After meeting with six families whose loved ones have served in Iraq, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said Monday that the United States had invaded the country based on “faulty intelligence.” But he did not press President Bush to bring home the state’s National Guard.

The families, some of whom have lost relatives, pleaded with the governor to urge Bush to return the Guard. But Romney said pulling out of Iraq unilaterally would cost more American lives.

“We were apparently mistaken as a nation in believing that there were weapons of mass destruction there, so that aspect of the entry into Iraq was obviously based on faulty intelligence,” Romney told reporters after meeting with the families. But, he said, “Those who are fighting in our armed services are doing so in a very real effort to preserve our liberties and preserve the safety of our citizens.”

Asked by a reporter if he believed the Iraq invasion had been a mistake, Romney responded, “Well, we went in under faulty impressions, faulty intelligence … We thought there were weapons of mass destruction.” He declined to say whether the United States should have gone to war if the lack of such weapons had been clear.

Japanese Leader’s Visit to War
Shrine Draws Criticism in Asia

By Norimitsu Onishi

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to a nationalist war memorial here drew immediate and fierce criticism from Asian countries Monday, threatening to isolate Japan in the region and deepen its already strained relations with China.

Beijing condemned the visit to the memorial, the Yasukuni shrine, as “a serious provocation to the Chinese people,” and canceled bilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis scheduled for Tuesday. South Korea also announced that it would cancel or postpone a trip to Japan scheduled for December by President Roh Moo-hyun, citing the shrine visit.

After months of speculation about the timing of this year’s visit, Koizumi on Monday morning fulfilled his promise of praying annually at the memorial. The Shinto shrine, which deifies Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, including Class A war criminals responsible for atrocities throughout Asia, is regarded by most Asians as the symbol of unrepentant Japanese militarism.