Nation briefs 9A

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Bishop's communion ban suggestion causes furor

MILWAUKEE -- A Roman Catholic bishop who waded into politics with a decree that lawmakers who support abortion rights can no longer receive Holy Communion has ignited a debate over the separation of church and state. Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wis., cited Vatican doctrine, canon law and teachings by the U.S. bishops in an announcement telling diocesan priests to withhold communion from such lawmakers until they "publicly renounce" their support of abortion rights. Pope John Paul II appointed Burke, 55, archbishop of St. Louis in December. Burke signed the decree in November, when he still had the authority to do so, but it was not made public until Thursday. Burke is to be installed in St. Louis on Jan. 26 -- raising concerns among some of his opponents that he may issue the same decree there.

Plane passenger demands to go to Australia

CHANTILLY, Va. -- An American Airlines commuter flight was diverted Saturday after a passenger passed a note to the crew demanding to be taken to Australia, the FBI said. The plane landed safely at Washington's Dulles International Airport and the passenger was in FBI custody. The FBI said there was no indication that the incident involving Flight 4959 was terrorism-related. New York's police commissioner, Ray Kelly, said a passenger passed a note to a crew member during the flight claiming that he had a bomb. The passenger later said he had a grenade, Kelly said. The passenger, whose identity was not released, was being questioned by the FBI. No charges were immediately filed.

Highest-level U.S. general to visit China since 1980s

WASHINGTON -- U.S. military ties with China have been slow to recover from the forced landing of a Navy spy plane on a Chinese island more than two years ago. But the prospect of closer military relations along with Washington's push to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program are among the chief reasons for a trip to Asia by the top U.S. general. Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left Saturday for a tour that will take him to Japan, Mongolia, China and Australia. Before Myers, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to visit China under Bush has been Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, in December 2002. No other Joint Chiefs chairman has gone to China since the early 1980s.

Appeals court: Fetuses can't have guardians

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A state appeals court upheld a decision that a guardian could not be appointed for the fetus of a mentally disabled rape victim, striking another blow to Gov. Jeb Bush's bid to extend guardianship rights to unborn children. The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach ruled late Friday that Orange County Judge Lawrence R. Kirkwood properly denied a woman's bid to be named guardian for the fetus, which has since been born. Nowhere in the Florida statutes discussing guardianship are fetal rights mentioned, Judge Richard B. Orfinger wrote in his majority opinion. He also noted that the Florida Supreme Court had previously rejected the argument that a fetus is a person.-- From wire reports

Town where mad cow lived rallies as government kills more cattle

MABTON, Wash. -- As the government planned a weeklong round of cattle-killing in response to a mad-cow case in this town, hundreds of residents crammed into a school gymnasium Saturday to show their support for the beef industry. About 350 people attended a rally that featured booths offering literature about mad cow disease and T-shirts encouraging people to eat beef. Also Saturday, 10 cows arrived at a slaughterhouse in the eastern Washington town of Wilbur -- the first of 129 from the Sunny Dene ranch being killed because they are believed to have come from the same farm in Alberta, Canada, as the diseased Holstein. Ten more cows were to be killed Monday, followed by 20 to 30 a day through the week, USDA spokesman Nolan Lemon said.

-- From wire reports

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