Police try again to coaxchildren out of home
GARFIELD BAY, Idaho -- Heartened by contact with five children holed up nearly a week in their isolated rural home, authorities tried again Saturday to coax the kids outside.
"We have made personal contact at the residence," Bonner County Sheriff's Sgt. Rob Rahn said. "We are making every effort to continue this today as we speak."
The children -- and a 15-year-old brother who surrendered to authorities Thursday -- withdrew to the house Tuesday, when their recently widowed mother, JoAnn McGuckin, was arrested for child neglect. Their father died May 12.
Walled off from the outside world by fear, trees and more than two dozen dogs, the children at the house were incommunicado until Friday, when they spoke with their mother's court-appointed attorney and authorities.
Rahn and the lawyer, Bryce Powell, refused to say whether 15-year-old Benjamin McGuckin or his mother were participating.
Family members and trusted friends have been helping at the scene, Rahn said. He refused to name them.
The children were given food and water during Friday's "long period" of contact, he said.
Museum dedicatedto famed cellist opens
EL VENDRELL, Spain -- A hometown museum dedicated to cellist Pablo Casals opened Saturday with traditional Catalan folkloric dances and performances by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and soprano Monserrat Caballe.
Some 500 celebrities and dignitaries, including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, toured the museum, whose 17 rooms each represent a different stage in the musician's life. The museum, 40 miles south of Barcelona in Spain's Catalonia region, opens to the public Monday.
It is housed in the renovated house where Casals lived until he went into self-imposed exile in 1939 to avoid living under the dictatorial regime of Gen. Francisco Franco.
"He was a man of personal warmth and a generous spirit who firmly believed in peace, in justice and freedom," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a letter read by his envoy, Silvia Fuhrman.
Born in 1876, Casals was a child prodigy who grew into a virtuoso cellist, a brilliant conductor and composer. A fierce supporter of human rights, he refused to play in countries that were not democracies.
Bush urges actionon education proposal
WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged Congress on Saturday to build on the momentum of his tax cut package and move ahead with an overhaul of public school education.
"We are within reach of historic education reform; so far, the signs are very good," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Both parties have been working together and I hope both parties will vote together as well."
Last weekend's passage of the $1.35 trillion tax cut bill was "an important bipartisan achievement," the president said. He is expected to sign the legislation this week.
The House has passed a $24 billion education package that requires schools to test the reading and math skills of students in grades three through eight. Schools that do not sufficiently improve test scores after one year would qualify for extra federal aid, but could be forced to replace some staff.
Also, low-income students in schools receiving federal funds would have the choice of transferring to another public school.
Exchange of prisoners
BOGOTA, Colombia -- The Colombian government and leftist guerrillas agreed Saturday to swap sick prisoners in what would be the first major breakthrough since peace talks began more than two years ago.
The agreement was reached following a meeting Saturday between government peace envoy Camilo Gomez and Manuel Marulanda, chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the official state news agency said in a statement.
Although it wasn't immediately clear how many prisoners would be freed, the first captive slated to be liberated is police Col. Alvaro Acosta, who was captured by the rebel army more than a year ago when his helicopter crashed. Acosta was critically injured in the crash.
The announcement did not specify when the swap would begin, but FARC spokesman Raul Reyes had said Friday that it would happen a few days after an agreement.
The 16,000-strong FARC, the nation's largest rebel army, is holding some 500 police and soldiers caught during fighting. Some have languished in the open air jungle pens for years.