Security tough for pope's travels in Central Asia
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is playing down the risks, but Kazakstan is mobilizing more than 2,000 soldiers and police to protect Pope John Paul II when he begins a visit to the volatile Central Asian region on Saturday.
Kazakstan says the measures are unprecedented following the terrorist attacks in the United States. An aide said John Paul, reportedly targeted in the past by Islamic militants, insisted on making the trip, part of his efforts for better relations with non-Catholics.
The sprawling country shares borders with three other former Soviet republics -- Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- that have sporadically battled incursions by Islamic radicals since 1999. The insurgents, believed to be trained in Afghanistan, appear to be aiming to carve out an Islamic state in the region.
Of the 15 million people in Kazakstan, some 360,000 are Catholic. Most were deported to Central Asia in the Stalinist years.
IRA seeks to restart negotiations on arms
DUBLIN, Ireland -- The Irish Republican Army offered Wednesday to renew its negotiations with international disarmament officials, saying it wants to accelerate the process.
It was unclear whether the statement would influence Britain's intention to strip power this weekend from Northern Ireland's joint Catholic-Protestant government, the cornerstone of a 1998 peace accord that faces imminent collapse because of the IRA's long-standing refusal to disarm.
The IRA broke off contact last month with the disarmament commission led by Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain, who since 1997 has been waiting in vain for the IRA and outlawed Protestant groups to scrap their weapons.
Elk hunter attacked by bear seriously injured
BOZEMAN, Mont. -- A grizzly bear broke a hunter's leg, tore up his ear and ripped gashes in his thigh and shoulder, but the man hobbled to safety after the bear stopped the attack and fled.
"I consider myself to be quite lucky," Dr. Steve Chamberlain said Tuesday.
Chamberlain, 49, an orthopedic surgeon from Medford, Ore., and David Wood of Bozeman were bowhunting for elk Saturday near Big Sky in southwestern Montana.
They were imitating the bugling call of a bull elk in mating season, but that apparently attracted the female grizzly, accompanied by two nearly grown cubs.
DNA evidence frees man after 13 years
CLEVELAND -- DNA evidence has cleared a man who has spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of rape.
Michael Green, 35, was convicted of raping a nurse who was being treated for liver cancer at the Cleveland Clinic. She died after testifying at Green's trial that he was her attacker.
Green, a former employee at the research hospital, was sentenced to 20 to 50 years.
However, tests showed that DNA on a washcloth used by the attacker to clean up and found at the crime scene in 1988 didn't match Green's DNA.
McDonald's millionaire charged with beating
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A formerly homeless day laborer who won a $1 million instant prize at McDonald's this month was arrested on charges of beating his fiancee.
Patrick Collier, 35, was released from the Volusia County Jail on $2,500 bond Tuesday after being arrested at his Ormond Beach home on a felony charge of aggravated battery against 29-year-old Sandra Fabian.
"It was just a fight," said Collier's attorney, J. Peyton Quarles. He said Fabian had left the state, and that the charge against his client could be reduced to battery.
According to a police report, Fabian was left bleeding from her mouth and nose, and had a swollen cheek. She was treated at a hospital for head and neck injuries, police said.
--From wire reports