ELKHART, Ind. -- A judge who approved a plan to erect monuments to other important documents near a Ten Commandments marker so it could remain on city property has reversed that decision, ruling that the proposal is unconstitutional.\nU.S. District Judge Allen Sharp gave Elkhart officials 30 days to come up with a new plan, The Truth reported in a story for Saturday's editions.\nSharp wrote in his order Wednesday that the city's proposal to set up markers to documents including the Bill of Rights and the Preamble to the Constitution could create an impression that the government was endorsing a religion.\nThat was part of the grounds on which the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago had rejected a similar plan by Indiana officials to place a Ten Commandments marker at the Statehouse.\n"The city of Elkhart has choices, but the proposed remedy is not among them," Sharp wrote. "The religious language…cannot remain in its place of prominence by the Elkhart Municipal Building."\nSharp set aside previous orders that contradicted Wednesday's ruling, including one he made March 4 in favor of the city's proposed remedy.\nIndiana Civil Liberties Union attorney Ken Falk welcomed the decision.\n"You can't put the Ten Commandments next to U.S. historical documents and convert the Ten Commandments into a historical document," he said.\nMayor Dave Miller said the city was unlikely to appeal Sharp's latest ruling because of the cost. Elkhart City Attorney Vlado Vranjes said officials would have to consider their next step and try to come up with another remedy.\nIn his ruling Wednesday, Sharp said the city's other options included removing or covering religious language on the marker, moving it to private property or placing it within the context of other documents, including secular ones, similar to the frieze on the wall of the U. S. Supreme Court.\nThe ICLU has argued that is not practical in Elkhart's case.\nFalk suggested the easiest option would be to move the marker to private property, where it would be constitutionally protected.\nTwo Elkhart residents represented by the ICLU sued in 1998 to try to remove the monument, which was given to the city by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1958.\nThe sides began settlement talks after the U.S. Supreme Court last spring declined to hear the city's appeal.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana officials are lobbying the Pentagon to name Camp Atterbury as a regional or national training center for soldiers and civilian agencies involved in homeland defense.\nThey join Ohio and Nevada officials who also are pitching bases in their states as candidates for homeland defense training sites, said Clifford Ong, director of Indiana's Counter-Terrorism and Security Council.\n"The National Guard Bureau thinks highly of our Guard," Ong said. "The problem is nobody really knows what the plan is, whether they are going to have a training program."\nThe National Guard's 33,132-acre Camp Atterbury, which straddles Johnson and Bartholomew counties, has slowly become one of the country's top training facilities.\nPremier military units, such as the Navy Seals commandos and the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Ky., train there regularly, as do many federal and local police agencies.\n"You've already got a history of law enforcement and military using this facility," Guard spokesman Maj. James McGallivray told The Indianapolis Star for a story Sunday.\nLt. Col. Barry Richmond of the Guard's strategic plans office in Indianapolis said only about six or seven other states have a Guard training facility as extensive as Atterbury's.\nIts features include an air gunnery range, an airfield that can land up to four large cargo planes, more than 30 small-arms ranges and specialized training resources such as rubble piles with 300 feet of tunnels used to train search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers.\nGuard officials also point to other selling points -- a central location nationally, a railroad line upgraded about five years ago and barracks that easily can house 8,000 soldiers.\nRichmond said Atterbury's best edge, however, has been its willingness to tailor training exercises to whatever a military unit or agency needs.\n"You can have the best resources," he said, "but if you don't have good people, their value is undermined"
ICLU may fight state over decision to close hospital\nEVANSVILLE -- The Indiana Civil Liberties Union is considering challenging the state's plan to close the Evansville Psychiatric Children's Center.\nWhile Gov. Frank O'Bannon and other state officials tout the benefits of moving mentally ill patients to group homes, the ICLU says many are being deprived of needed care.\n"I think we've done a horrible job of taking care of mentally ill kids in Indiana," ICLU attorney Ken Falk told the Evansville Courier & Press for a story published Sunday.\nIndiana is required by law to provide care for mentally ill children, Falk said. But parents and lawmakers said at a hearing last week officials have not provided evidence that children at the center will receive adequate treatment elsewhere if it is closed.\nO'Bannon announced last month that the 28-bed children's hospital would be closed June 30. The decision is expected to save the state about $3.3 million a year.\nThe state has been shifting toward smaller, regional centers and community-based settings for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. A center for the developmentally disabled at New Castle already has been closed, and officials also plan to close the Muscatatuck State Development Center.\nSouthwest Indiana places more children in institutions than other parts of the state. Eleven of 19 patients at the Evansville center earlier this month were from Vanderburgh County, said John Hamilton, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.\nBut 51 Indiana counties currently have no children placed in a state mental hospital, Hamilton said.\nThe ICLU already has a lawsuit pending against the state in federal court, alleging Indiana is violating federal law by refusing to provide Medicaid funding for children's placement in private psychiatric residential treatment facilities.\nLab techs say no quick fix for evidence backlog\nFORT WAYNE -- Technicians at the state's crime labs say they will likely need years to analyze a mounting backlog of evidence, despite lawmakers' attempt to ease the problem with an additional $12.2 million.\n"The state earmarking money will help tremendously," said 1st Sgt. John Vanderkolk, manager of the crime lab in Fort Wayne, which serves about 30 counties in northern Indiana. "But it will take time to see the impact."\nAll four of the state lab locations -- Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lowell and Evansville -- are wrestling with backlogs of evidence awaiting testing.\nFort Wayne has handled the highest volume of evidence annually since 1998, but it has the lowest number of backlogged cases, according to numbers provided by Indiana State Police.\nThe Fort Wayne lab is currently working on evidence submitted in June 2001. As of April 1, the lab is backlogged by 779 cases.\nThe lab performs latent fingerprint identification, drug screening, ballistics testing and firearms identification. It also prepares DNA and trace evidence samples for testing completed at the Indianapolis lab.\nIf no additional evidence were submitted to Fort Wayne's lab, the current backlog could be eliminated in four months. Instead, new evidence arrives daily, Vanderkolk said.\nState lawmakers agreed to spend additional money on the problem before they adjourned in mid-March. Some of the funding will be used to hire new technicians, which can take six months to two years.\nIn the meantime, as technology advances, still more evidence arrives, Vanderkolk said.\n"This is an age-old problem," he told The Journal Gazette for a story published Sunday. "New technology allows for new testing, and service requests go up."\nState Supreme Court declines to hear security case \nLAFAYETTE -- The Indiana Supreme Court declined to rule on whether a local judge overstepped his bounds when he ordered county commissioners to increase security at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse.\nThe justices said the issue was moot since most of the security measures mandated by Tippecanoe Circuit Court Judge Ronald Melichar were put in place anyway after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.\n"We presume that since they took these measures on their own initiative, they ultimately concluded that these steps were reasonably necessary," the justices wrote in the opinion issued Friday.\nCommissioners closed six of the building's eight entrances, set up metal detectors and approved funding for additional bailiffs after a series of bomb threats disrupted business at the courthouse in September.\nMelichar's mandate was issued in August 2000. The courthouse was the target of an attempted truck bombing in 1998.\nThe county commissioners and council last fall asked the state Supreme Court to determine whether Melichar's order had exceeded his authority, because courthouse security is the responsibility of the county sheriff and commissioners.\nSmall-town mayor seeks nomination for governor\nPETERSBURG, Ind. -- A southwestern Indiana man who became the youngest mayor in state history is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2004.\nRandy Harris, Petersburg's three-term mayor and a 36-year-old Evansville native, announced his candidacy Friday at the Pike County Lincoln Day dinner.\nAt age 27, he won election as mayor of Petersburg in 1991, becoming the youngest mayor in state history.\nHarris, a Republican in largely Democratic Pike County, acknowledged that his background as a small-town mayor could leave him open to attacks that he is unprepared to lead the state.\n"I guess the biggest question that will come from this campaign is, 'How can you take the step from being the only mayor in a county with 13,000 people in a city of less than 3,000 and run for governor of Indiana, with 6 million people,'" Harris told about 170 people at the dinner.\nBut Harris said he has a record of effective management.\nThe University of Southern Indiana graduate worked as a radio news reporter after moving to Petersburg in 1988.\nState Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, also has announced a candidacy for the GOP nomination for governor. Two others have indicated they may also run: state Sen. Murray Clark, R-Indianapolis, and conservative activist Eric Miller.\nLt. Gov. Joe Kernan is widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. Frank O'Bannon.\nMan accused of spreading fear over CB radio\nMUNSTER, Ind. -- Police have arrested a northwestern Indiana man they say made threats over a citizens band radio to rape and kill his neighbors and truck drivers.\nWilliam Bates, 38, of Munster, transmitted the threats for more than a year, authorities allege. Police received their first complaint of a threat in October 2000.\nBates' arrest Friday came after a Munster police sergeant spent 40 hours over a five-week period listening on a CB radio for threats and recording them, The Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.\nBates, who was arrested on a misdemeanor harassment charge, was released from the Lake County Jail on Saturday. Authorities said they also plan to charge him with possession of marijuana.\nBates could not be reached for comment Saturday. There is no phone listing for him in Lake County.\nPolice said Bates' on-air name was "Candy Man."\nBates' radio equipment interfered with his neighbors' televisions, computers and other electronics, police said.\nOfficers who searched Bates' home confiscated radio equipment with settings that violated federal communications regulations.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana has lost more jobs in the past two years than any other state.\nThe approximately 3 percent setback -- seven times worse than the national average -- is so severe that neighboring industrial states look prosperous in comparison, an analysis of recent government statistics shows.\nAmong sectors shedding the 95,000 workers were retailing, services and the state's core industry of manufacturing.\nEconomists say prospects for a rebound are uncertain.\nMore than in past recessions, competitive pressures to cut costs will force some manufacturers to buy machines or move work out of the country instead of hire back laid-off employees.\n"Everything depends on the future of manufacturing," Hudson Institute economist Graham Toft told The Indianapolis Star for a story published Sunday. "I am not sanguine about the uptick."\nDeclining employment, with its fallout of crimping state tax revenue, is only the latest symptom in a decades-long trend of Hoosiers losing ground in earnings.\nMuch of the problem is attributed to international competition and corporate buyouts that swept away well-paying management positions.\nLow unemployment rates are deceptive because they do not track people who drop out of the labor market. As the number of available jobs shrink, so does the number of people looking for work.\nThere's nothing new about a recession pounding Indiana. In the eight recessions since World War II, only in 1990-91 did Indiana do better than the country as a whole.\nThe current recession began in March 2001, and many experts think it ended late last year or early this year.\nAs a barometer of economic health, employment shows the total number of jobs available. Shrinking job opportunities usually mean people earn less money.\nThe two-year period beginning in January 2000 dates to a couple of months before the technology bubble busted and more than a year before the recession began, said IU economist James C. Smith, who analyzed the Bureau of Labor statistics.\n"Indiana just fared pretty poorly across the board," Smith said.\nYet, Hudson Institute's Toft, who formerly headed the state's economic development think tank, said the 3.16-percent loss is better than average for the state during recessions.\nIndiana's job-creation woes stretch back further than two years. Few jobs have been created since the mid-'90s, leaving total employment stubbornly entrenched at just below 3 million, Toft said.\nThe lackluster performance raises questions about whether many of the prized manufacturing jobs lost during the recession can be recovered.\nThe latest figures show the two-decade effort to diversify the state's economy was not aggressive enough, Smith said.\nAlthough Indiana has added thousands of jobs in well-paying services, 21.5 percent of all jobs are directly involved in manufacturing, still the highest dependence in the nation.\nTom McKenna, executive director of the Indiana Department of Commerce, said an obsolete tax structure is the greatest hindrance. He urged the General Assembly to enact the governor's proposed revisions.\n"We have a 19th-century tax structure, and we need a 21st-century tax structure," McKenna said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana State Police crime lab still faces several years of work to whittle away a burgeoning backlog of evidence, despite a last-minute maneuver by state lawmakers to earmark more money for the lab.\nThe additional funding -- about $12.23 million over four years -- is not expected to keep up with the number of cases referred to the lab, police say.\nThe number of backlogged cases at the state's four crime labs was 5,287 on Jan. 1. By March 1, it swelled to 5,649.\n"To get caught up within four years would be a desirable goal, but it also would be a tall order," state police Sgt. David Bursten said.\nThe four state police crime labs -- in Indianapolis, Lowell, Fort Wayne and Evansville -- analyze crime evidence for most of the state's police organizations.\nMoney for scientific testing of DNA samples, guns, drugs and other evidence appeared elusive during most of the legislative session as lawmakers struggled with an impending budget deficit. But on the session's last day, lawmakers tapped part of an existing fee collected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for the crime lab.\nIn the first year, the fee would net about $1 million for the lab. The money would increase each year, to $4.39 million in the third year.\nGov. Frank O'Bannon signed the measure last week.\nMaj. Robert Conley, commander of the state police laboratory division, said the agency continues to be swamped with requests for evidence examinations.\nDNA analysis of blood and other bodily substances accounted for 729 backlogged cases as of March 1.\nIt will take time to hire more scientists, train them for the crime lab and plug them into the existing system. addition, it may be difficult to find qualified scientists willing to work from 4 p.m. to midnight, Conley said.\nFor victims waiting for justice, there's little solace in knowing about the reasons for the backlog.\nLaura Koenig, a 23-year-old Vincennes woman who was raped in May 2001, is still waiting for an arrest in her case. She has identified a man as her attacker, and some DNA tests have been completed, but others are pending.\nKoenig, who agreed to tell her story to The Indianapolis Star last month, said the detective on the case has urged her to hang on.\n"I guess I'll hang on and see how long it takes," she said.
Barry Took, one of Britain\'s most famous comedians and comic writers who helped produce such shows as "Monty Python's Flying Circus," died Sunday at the age of 73, his family announced.\nTook, once described as one of the funniest men in Britain, died at a north London nursing home after a battle with cancer, his family said.\nTook had an unusually long career as a standup comic, radio scriptwriter writer, television executive and film critic.\nHe was responsible for celebrated radio series like "Round the Horne," "The Army Game," "Educating Archie" and "Bootsie and Snudge." The shows were a vital part of British life in the austere decades after World War II, when food rationing lasted for years and the country struggled to adjust to its diminished role in the world.\nTook also worked on the U.S. television show, "Laugh In."\nA native of London, Took was dogged by self-doubt, depression, domestic problems and ill-health. His two marriages ended in divorce.\nLeaving school at the age of 15, he worked as an office boy and a cinema projectionist before serving in the air force, where he was involved in entertainment programs.\nTook later worked as a stage hand and comic. In his autobiography, "A Point of View," he recalled that he once did 12 shows in the city of Wolverhampton without raising a single laugh.\nIn 1957, he began working with fellow comic Marty Feldman, and they went on to create and write some of the most successful radio shows of the 1960s. The pair turned out scripts at a rapid pace, often compiling four or five shows a week.\nAlthough his working life revolved around comedy, Took once said: "I don't like comedians very much because I don't like neurotic people. I think they should go and get cured. I'm mad too but I'm as cured as I can get."\nDubbed Baron von Took by a television executive, he was involved in plans for a show called "Baron von Took's Flying Circus" which eventually became "Monty Python's Flying Circus."\nIn later life, Took wrote film reviews for Punch magazine and did panel shows on radio.\nTook is survived by two daughters and two sons.
INDIANAPOLIS -- When homes throughout Indiana are reassessed this year, property owners may not be hit as hard as expected if elected assessors do everything they can to hold down tax bills.\nHomeowners have been told the average bill could rise anywhere from 13 to 33 percent. But a recent study concluded that the increase could be much smaller -- 3 to 5 percent -- if elected assessors work within the law to aid property owners.\nIf they go further and fail to abide by the state's new minimum standards for valuing property, it could mean even more favorable treatment for homeowners.\nThat would fly in the face of what the reassessment is supposed to do: make property tax bills for similar properties more equal, as the Indiana Supreme Court has ordered.\n"I think assessors are going to do whatever the heck they want," Karl Berron, a lobbyist for the Indiana Association of Realtors, told The Indianapolis Star for a story published Sunday. "If the state does nothing, the system's not going to get fixed."\nThe reassessment is the first since 1995 and the first since the state's high court declared the current system unconstitutional because owners of similarly priced homes were paying wildly different tax bills.\nThe big question is whether state tax officials will have the know-how and political will to stop assessors from going too far. Residential assessments could remain out of whack if many of the 1,100 assessing officials are selective about how they use information from home sales in assessments.\n"If the state looks the other way and taxpayers are uninformed, you can get just as bad a result as you would in the current system," said Larry DeBoer, a Purdue University economist who has researched potential effects of the new market value system.\nThe potential for exploiting court-ordered reforms could force state officials to keep a close watch over assessors. If they fall short, the reassessment might not satisfy the Supreme Court, sparking more lawsuits.\nGov. Frank O'Bannon's estimate that the average homeowner's bill would rise 13 percent assumes local officials will perform their jobs flawlessly and without regard for who will pay more. Critics say that's unlikely, given the big increases many homeowners could see.
Fort Wayne man seeks to lower fees for bone marrow registry\nINDIANAPOLIS -- A Fort Wayne man who survived cancer believes the fee to register as a bone-marrow donor may be costing some cancer patients their lives, so he is asking state lawmakers to help.\nA man in Germany donated the bone marrow that Randy McCune said freed his body of leukemia. McCune, 40, wants to make it easier for others to find a match.\nThe bone-marrow profile needed to match donors and recipients can cost a donor up to $96 and deters some people who might be willing to help, McCune said.\n"It's atrocious that people have to pay to save someone's life," he told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne for a story published on Sunday.\nMcCune is pushing legislation in the General Assembly that would educate people about bone-marrow transplants and reduce the fee donors pay to have their bone-marrow profile added to the national marrow registry.\nThe Indiana House passed McCune's proposal 94-1 last week, sending the legislation to the Senate. The bill transfers $50,000 from the state's anatomic gift promotion fund to a new fund for the test of bone- and organ-marrow donors.\nLawmaker seeks state Hispanic commission \nINDIANAPOLIS -- A lawmaker from East Chicago is sponsoring a bill that would make Indiana's Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs a permanent entity.\nDemocratic Rep. John Aguilera's bill has made it out of committee with an amendment calling for a separate commission for Native Americans.\n"We have grown threefold in the last decade, and we are projected to grow another threefold in the next decade," Aguilera, Indiana's only Hispanic lawmaker, told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville.\nU.S. Census figures indicate Hispanics comprise 3.5 percent of the state's population -- 214,000 of 6.1 million Hoosiers. Lake County has the state's largest Hispanic population, with 59,000 people or 12 percent.\nWhile Hispanics are well-established in Lake and Porter counties, much of the rest of the state is just beginning to recognize an influx, making it more difficult to maintain a statewide voice, Aguilera said.\nIn the last session, he challenged his own Democratic leadership in the House and refused to vote for the House map of new legislative districts because it did not contain a majority Hispanic district anywhere in the state. Aguilera's district is about 25 percent Hispanic and Latino.\nA survey by the Greater Indianapolis United Way in 2000 found a majority of the local Hispanic community had been in Indiana less than two years.\nIndiana transportation funding next to last\nINDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's share of federal funding for pet transportation projects put it next to last in the nation on a per-capita basis, according to an Associated Press review of federal data.\nIndiana received $39.1 million -- or $6.44 for each of the state's 6.08 million residents-- from a pot of highway money used for projects dear to lawmakers hearts. Only Ohio received less per capita.\nNo Indiana lawmaker sat on the House-Senate Appropriations conference committee, a 29-member panel which increased funding for local projects requested by individual lawmakers.\nIn doing so, the committee removed general transportation money states can use at their discretion. The AP computer analysis found the shift cost state and local governments about 11 percent of the money they originally expected to get as they saw fit.\nThe biggest per-capita loser was Ohio, which received $5.81 per person for pet transportation projects.\nIndiana's share rises to $6.64 per person if the state's share of a joint Indiana-Kentucky Ohio River bridges project is taken into account.
LANCASTER, Ky. -- The Garrard Fiscal Court has decided to fight the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky in its civil suit to have the Ten Commandments display taken down from a wall in the county courthouse.\nIn a special meeting Tuesday, magistrates went into executive session to discuss the suit -- filed last week by the ACLU against County-Judge Executive E.J. Hasty.\n"We're going to leave (the display) hanging," said Magistrate Ronnie Lane in his motion. He said an attorney will be chosen at the next fiscal court meeting.\nMagistrate Norman Davis seconded Lane's motion. The vote by the five county representatives was unanimous. Magistrate F.C. Foley could not be reached for comment after the meeting, but three of the four remaining magistrates left no doubt about their convictions.\n"I'm not letting the ACLU tell us what we have to (do)," Lane said after the vote.\nLane said his constituents are telling him they want the display to remain.\n"I'm just doing what I think is right," said Norman Davis, who had seconded Lane's motion.\nThe display was posted in December 1999 after the court approved the request to post it by a local minister. It includes a large copy of the Commandments surrounded by a quote from Abraham Lincoln, copies of The Mayflower Compact, the preambles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of Kentucky and others.\nCounty Attorney Jeff Moss said he has been contacted by three legal firms offering to take the case at no cost. He noted that no county funds to date have been spent on the display.\nNov. 27, the ACLU also filed suit in federal court against Mercer County Judge-Executive Charles McGinnis, as well as against Rowan and Grayson counties.
JERUSALEM -- After a series of suicide bombings against Israel that killed 25 people and wounded nearly 200, Yasser Arafat ordered dozens of Islamic militants arrested and promised harsh action. But Israel was deeply skeptical, with hard-liners calling for the removal of the Palestinian leader. \nThe carnage began in Jerusalem just before midnight Saturday, when two suicide bombers set off their nail-filled bombs on Ben Yehuda street, an area of cafes and bars packed with young Israelis. Ten people, mostly teens, were killed, and 150 were wounded. \nAt noon Sunday, another Palestinian blew himself up in a bus in the northern port city of Haifa, sending bodies flying and destroying the vehicle. Fifteen people were killed and 40 injured. \nThe Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombings, in retaliation for Israel\'s slaying of a Hamas leader nine days ago. Three suicide attackers were killed in the bombings.
KOENIGSWINTER, Germany -- When Afghan delegates and U.N. mediators begin talks Tuesday at a secluded hotel overlooking the Rhine River, it will not be the first time the course of history is negotiated at the former government guest house. \nIn 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stayed in the stately Petersberg mansion, when he met with Adolf Hitler to try to avert World War II. In 1999, Western countries and Russia negotiated the terms of Yugoslavia's surrender following the NATO bombing campaign that year. \nNow, the future of Afghanistan is at stake in the most concerted effort to bring peace to the country in the last two decades. Secluded at Petersberg will be 32 Afghan delegates, 22 who will sit in the talks and 10 advisers, representing the northern alliance and three exile Afghan groups. The talks, which will be led by the United Nations, are expected to go on for days, and possibly weeks. \n"The people of Afghanistan desperately need peace to rebuild the country," Ahmad Fawzi, a U.N. spokesman for the talks, said in Koenigswinter. "I think by agreeing to come the parties have made a good start." \nThe delegates will spend the duration of the talks at Petersberg, perched on a hilltop above the former German capital of Bonn, and reached by a single road. The location was chosen not only for security reasons, but also to remove the delegations from what Fawzi called "daily pressures," a move the United Nations hopes will give the delegations perspective to reach a consensus. \n"It's a very simple agenda really," Fawzi said. "We're talking about the possibility to form a transitional administration for Afghanistan, as soon as possible because speed is of the essence in view of the situation on the ground." \nGerman Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will greet the four delegations when the conference opens on Tuesday. At that point, German officials will step into the background, while the delegates and advisers seek consensus on what the United Nations hopes will be the first agreements defining Afghanistan's political future. \nGerman officials emphasize their role is as host, not facilitator. Other interested nations, notably the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom, also will observe from the corridors. \nSparing no effort to make the delegates feel comfortable, German officials have set up three prayer rooms, for Sunni and Shiite Muslims, as well as for female worshippers, and have ordered evening buffets of chicken and rice dishes with dried fruit to break the daily Ramadan fast. \nThere are limits to what will be accommodated: Delegates must check any weapons before entering the talks. \nGermany emerged as the host of what many experts expect will be difficult, even contentious talks, due to its long-standing cultural and political ties with Afghanistan and its image as a neutral party. \nBerlin quietly hosted four meetings over the last two years of Afghan parties and interested nations, including the United States and Pakistan, demonstrating its ability to create a relaxed atmosphere for difficult discussions. The last set of the talks was held in July, a Foreign Ministry official said. \nBut cultural ties are much older, extending to the early 20th century, and including the founding of a German secondary school in Kabul attended by the Afghan elite. The two countries maintained friendly relations throughout the last century and changing governments in both countries, helped by the fact Germany had no interests in the region, said Citha Maass of the Foundation for Science and Politics in Berlin. \nDuring the last two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, Maass said Germany maintained relations with all the warring factions. Today, it is home to some 80,000 Afghan exiles, the largest community in Europe. \nMore recently, Germany has taken a lead role organizing international aid to Afghanistan. \n"Germany is one of the few powers that can be taken seriously by all sides," said Almut Wieland-Karimi of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin. "The Americans and Brits disqualified themselves, if not before, finally with the military action."\nThe U.N. spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said the United Nations was imposing no conditions on the Afghans. \n"It's their choice. They know what the international community has to offer," Fawzi said. "Without peace there will be no development. Without peace there will be no investment." \nIf the talks succeed, Afghanistan could have its first stable government since the 1970s, and the international community is poised to offer hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars to a bankrupt nation in desperate need of reconstruction. \n"This is a golden opportunity for Afghanistan," Fawzi said.
CRANE, Ind. -- Though the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center is helping supply weapons America needs to win the war against terrorism, the facility could lose the battle to survive government cost-cutting.\nCongress is hammering out a national defense spending bill that likely will include provisions for downsizing or closing dozens of military installations by the middle of this decade. Though no official list of targeted bases has been released, business owners and officials in southern Indiana fear one could be the 60-year-old Crane facility.\nCrane provides thousands of jobs on site and through contracts and generates about $241 million a year in wages, according to an economic study last year by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.\n"If Crane is ever closed, the impact would be devastating in every way -- economically, employment, culture," said Jim Shelton, manager of Technology Service Corp., a Monroe County company that does business with Crane. "There would be a giant hole left in southern Indiana."\nShelton and several other officials and business leaders have formed the Southern Indiana Business Alliance to sound the alert about Crane in the eight rural counties that surround the 32,000-acre base.\nBut they may have a tough job drumming up interest.\nFormer Crane commander Steve Howard, who now heads the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, said the intensified activity around Crane since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks makes it difficult to convince people that base closings are a possibility.\nJust four days after the attacks, the Senate voted 53-47 to begin a new round of base closings. Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., supported the measure. And on Oct. 15, eight former defense secretaries signed a letter favoring base closings and sent it to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.\n"Our biggest enemy right now is complacency here in Indiana," Howard said. "Things are happening in Washington. People think Crane has always been around and always will be."\nLinton Mayor Jimmie K. Wright has seen Crane weather all types of threats, both foreign and domestic.\n"Crane got looked at hard in 1995, but they are about the last major military installation in the state. I think they\'ll be OK," Wright said.\nMost people know the facility as a storage site for some 650,000 tons of munitions, enough to supply the Army and Navy for the first 30 days of a full-scale war.\nCrane's other role is technical, with about a third of its 3,200 workers employed as engineers, scientists and high-skilled technicians manufacturing items like night-vision goggles and guidance systems for aircraft.\n"Their high-tech performance is what keeps them vital, not the lobbying in Washington," Wright said.\nBut Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union in Alexandria, Va., said lobbying is what has kept many military installations alive.\n"Most of these military installations serve a political purpose rather than national security," he said.\nSepp said most communities that feared economic calamity when their bases closed survived by converting the facilities into industrial parks and other uses for the private sector.\nBut Howard said Crane is an exception because the area is isolated and lacks commercial development.\nRick Graves, who owns a plumbing, heating and air conditioning business in Switz City, said two of his 20 employees are detailed directly to Crane, while much of the work he does in houses comes from people who work there.\n"They are a major factor down here," Graves said. "We'd like to see them here always"
CAIRO, Egypt -- Osama bin Laden's spokesman on Tuesday called for a holy war against U.S. interests everywhere and praised the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon for their "good deed." \n"America must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, and there are thousands of young people who look forward to death like the Americans look forward to life," Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said. \nThe message from Abu Ghaith was the second statement from al Qaeda since the launch of U.S.-led airstrikes against Afghanistan Sunday. Bin Laden issued a videotaped message that same day, though it appeared to have been recorded before the attacks began. \nAbu Ghaith, who addressed his message "to the entire Islamic nation," said that President Bush had launched a "crusade" against Afghanistan with the launch of strikes and Muslims worldwide must respond. \nJihad, or holy war, "is a duty of every Muslim if they haven't got an excuse," he said in the videotaped statement broadcast on the Arab television news station Al-Jazeera. \n"The American interests are everywhere all over the world. Every Muslim has to play his real and true role to uphold his religion and his nation in fighting, and jihad is a duty," he said. \nIf Muslims do not take up their duty, "it will be shameful," he said. "This battle is a decisive battle between atheism and faith." \nHe praised the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, saying the hijackers "did something good" and took the battle to the heart of America. \n"The Americans have opened a door that will never be closed," Abu Ghaith said of the continuing air raids on Afghanistan. "America must know that the battle will not leave its land until America leaves our land; until it stops supporting Israel; until it stops the blockade against Iraq." \nThat echoed bin Laden's statement Sunday, which aimed to cast the fight as one that pits the West and Israel against the interests of Muslims everywhere, particularly the Palestinians and Iraqis. \nAn editorial staffer at Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar, Ibrahim Hilal, said the channel received the tape at its bureau in Kabul, the Afghan capital, Tuesday. Al-Jazeera did not say when the videotape was recorded. The station also broadcast bin Laden's statement Sunday. \nAbu Ghaith wore a white turban, similar to that worn by Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks. He was dressed in white robes and stood against a dark brown background. \nIn closing his remarks, Abu Ghaith thanked God for the chance to wage holy war.