Pope Benedict's style begins to emerge

Sunday, June 19, 2005

VATICAN CITY -- The papal persona of Benedict XVI is beginning to take shape, and it's taking many by surprise. Since his election April 19, a new, warm and smiling Benedict has emerged. He rides standing and waving in open vehicles, willingly has his picture taken donning a Hawaiian lei or a firefighters' helmet, and at a recent public audience spoke to an apparently terminally ill nun on a cell phone. The new pope has set an informal, cordial style for his official visits. He has also removed the traditional tiara from his papal coat of arms and replaced it with a simple bishop's miter -- a sign Vatican watchers said indicated he wanted to make the papacy less regal.

Three men held in Aruba for at least another week

ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- A judge on Saturday ordered the teenage son of a prominent justice official and two of his friends to stay in jail for at least another week while investigators search for clues in the disappearance of a young Alabama woman. A disc jockey on an Aruban tourist party boat who also has been detained in the case was to appear before a judge Monday. Under Dutch law, which Aruba follows as a Dutch protectorate, authorities can detain individuals for up to 116 days without filing formal charges.

Taliban take police captive in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Taliban rebels ambushed a police convoy in southern Afghanistan, taking at least 10 officers and a district police chief captive, while fighting elsewhere left six insurgents and an Afghan soldier dead, officials said Saturday. The attack on the convoy occurred Thursday as it was traveling from Kandahar to the district of Miana Shien, about 60 miles northeast of Kandahar, said deputy provincial police chief Gen. Salim Khan. Khan said all the men are believed to have been captured.

South Korean soldier goes on shooting spree

SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean soldier threw a grenade and went on a shooting spree Sunday near the border with communist North Korea, killing eight fellow soldiers, the Defense Ministry said. In addition to the eight killed, two soldiers were injured in the attack. The Defense Ministry said the cause of the incident was under investigation.

<>--From wire reports<>

--From wire reports

A survey published last Sunday in the newspaper El Pais gave Fraga's Galician branch of the Popular Party 34 or 35 seats, down from 41. A majority is 38.

Xose Luis Barreiro Rivas, a political science professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, attributed Fraga's longevity in office to deep-rooted conservatism in Franco's native region and an extremely well-organized party that until now faced an opposition in disarray.

To his credit, Fraga has done much to transform one of Spain's poorer regions by improving its infrastructure with highways and other public works projects, much of it financed by EU aid funds.

That poverty traditionally made Galicia a land of emigration, and the 300,000 Galicians who live abroad -- mostly in Latin America, where in some countries Spaniards in general are simply called "gallegos" -- account for 12 percent of the electorate and are seen as crucial to the final tally.

But at home, Fraga's gloomy polling numbers show that in Galicia -- even among his supporters -- people are ready for change, Barreiro Rivas said.

The Galician wing of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party rose from 17 to 26 seats according to the poll published last week, and the Nationalist Galician Bloc slipped two or three seats from its current share of 17. The poll had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

A poll in El Mundo gave Fraga 37-39 seats, but also said 60 percent of Popular Party members wanted a candidate other than Fraga.

"For the first time there is a generalized sense that Fraga is too old and will have a very hard time finishing out his term, so to a certain extent this is a false election," Barreiro Rivas said. "We are not electing the real president, so to speak. There must be another president waiting in the wings."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: