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Afghan attorney general expects court to void election

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s attorney general expressed hope on Tuesday that a special court appointed by the president to look into election fraud would throw out the results of the country’s parliamentary elections, and predicted that the court would delay this week’s planned inauguration of a new Parliament.

Speaking in an interview, Mohammed Ishaq Aloko, the attorney general and a strong supporter of President Hamid Karzai, said his investigation of the September parliamentary elections uncovered such widespread fraud that the results should be annulled. Although the decision was up to the special court, he said invalidating the election seemed the most plausible step.

Aloko said, “Since there is not enough time before the inauguration of Parliament for the special court to come to its decision, there are two options — to delay seating Parliament until the court decides, or to inaugurate Parliament this week and afterwards the special court could remove anyone found guilty of fraud and replace them.”

NFL popularity up, as is concern of lockout

ATLANTA ­— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked at the conclusion of an owners meeting Tuesday to account for the surge in the game’s popularity. Goodell said it was not just one story line driving the soaring television ratings and fan interest, but many.

Soon, however, there could be one story line surrounding the owners’ labor dispute with players. There are three more games to be played — the conference championship games Sunday and the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 — but after that the threat of a work stoppage will move front and center, and both sides will be portrayed publicly as gluttons in a multibillion-dollar industry.

From the league’s vantage point, negotiations appear to be stagnant, with no progress on the main issues: distribution of income and the length of the regular season. The collective bargaining agreement between the sides expires March 4 and there is a threat of a lockout.

Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers, and Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said the owners were trying to be stewards of the game and shepherd it through unsettling economic times.

Vatican warned bishops

on abuse reporting policy

A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.

The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of accused child abusers.

Abuse victims in Ireland and the United States quickly proclaimed the document to be a “smoking gun” that would serve as important evidence in lawsuits against the Vatican.

“The Vatican is at the root of this problem,” said Colm O’Gorman, an outspoken victim of abuse in Ireland who is now director of Amnesty International there.