The Nation and World In Brief

Cambodia tribunal holds first hearing

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia &

The head of the Khmer Rouge's largest and most notorious torture center appeared in court today in the first public session of the long-delayed U.N.-backed tribunal probing the regime's reign of terror in the 1970s.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was escorted by guards into a packed courtroom for a pretrial hearing to seek bail ahead of trials scheduled to begin in 2008.

Duch, 66, who is charged with crimes against humanity, took the witness stand and stood up when asked to tell the court his name. He then brought his palms together in a sign of respect for the five-judge panel beside him.

A presiding judge then read aloud from Duch's case file: "Under his authority, countless abuses were committed, including mass murder, arbitrary detention and torture."

Hundreds of journalists, international observers and Cambodians crowded the tribunal's compound on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to witness the event, which comes almost three decades after the regime fell from power.

FBI: Hate crime incidents up in 2006


Hate crime incidents rose nearly 8 percent last year, the FBI reported Monday, as civil rights advocates increasingly take to the streets to protest what they call official indifference to intimidation and attacks against blacks and other minorities.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

More than half the incidents were motivated by racial prejudice, but the report did not even pick up all the racially motivated incidents last year.

Although the noose incidents and beatings among students at Jena, La., high school occurred in the last half of 2006, they were not included in the report. Only 12,600 of the nation's more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006 and neither Jena nor LaSalle Parish, in which the town is located, were among the agencies reporting.

Nevertheless, the Jena incidents, and a subsequent rash of noose and other racial incidents around the country, have spawned civil rights demonstrations that culminated last week at Justice Department headquarters here. The department said it investigated the Jena incident but decided not to prosecute because the federal government does not typically bring hate crime charges against juveniles.

Northern Iraq attacks decline overall


Despite a decline in violence in Iraq, northern Iraq has become more violent than other regions as al-Qaida and other militants move there to avoid coalition operations elsewhere, the region's top U.S. commander said.

Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling on Monday said al-Qaida cells still operate in all the key cities in the north.

"What you're seeing is the enemy shifting," Hertling told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from outside Tikrit in northern Iraq.

Hertling said militants have been pushed east to his area from Anbar by the so-called Awakening movement, in which local tribes have allied with the coalition against al-Qaida. Others have been pushed north to his area from the Baghdad region, where this year's U.S. troops escalation has made more operations possible.

"The attacks are still much higher than I would like here in the north, but they are continuing to decrease in numbers and scale of attacks," he said.

Air traffic controllers join French strike


Civil servants, from teachers to air traffic controllers, began a mass walkout today, the seventh day of a transport strike that has wreaked havoc on French rails. But the government said it would not cede on planned reforms.

Despite the increased pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy, the government stood firm, with Prime Minister Francois Fillon saying the reforms must go through &

even though the rail strikes are costing the country at least $439.6 million a day.

Budget Minister Eric Woerth told France Inter radio today that the strike by public transport workers could have an impact on France's economic growth if it lasts.

Strikes led by train drivers angry over Sarkozy's plans to raise their retirement age have hampered rail traffic and public transport in Paris for a week.

Today schools, postal and tax services fell victim to a strike by civil servants seeking higher salaries and job security as the government works to whittle down the bureaucracy. Air traffic, too, was expected to be affected.

Sex scandal rocks megachurch


The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.

Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

In truth, this is not the first &

or even the second &

sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

"" The Associated Press

The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.

"I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago.

Major Asian markets recover from early swoon after Wall Street plunge; Tokyo leads turnaround


Major Asian markets recovered from an early swoon Tuesday after a sharp drop on Wall Street overnight with investors in Japan leading an afternoon turnaround by snapping up stocks that had been battered in recent weeks.

But smaller bourses in Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines sank amid lingering concerns about U.S. housing and banking woes and their broader impact on the U.S. economy, a key export market.

In a roller-coaster day, markets across the region tumbled in early trading as investors reacted to a 1.7 percent slide Monday in New York in the Dow Jones industrial average.

But by afternoon trading, even jittery investors in Tokyo were beginning to feel that recent declines were getting overdone, says Tomochika Kitaoka, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo.

"It's conceivable people will start to rethink their recent selling as an overreaction to the U.S. problem," Kitaoka said, although he cautioned that more news about U.S. economic woes could trigger another sell-off.

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