Catholic bishops likelyto elect black president
WASHINGTON -- Bishop Wilton Gregory is expected to become the first black president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a four-day meeting that begins today.
The Belleville, Ill., prelate now serves as the group's vice president. Conference vice presidents traditionally are elected to the organization's top post. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday.
The bishops also will renew the church's fight against abortion, while proposing Jan. 1 as a day of prayer for peace as the war on terrorism continues.
The conference serves as the church's national voice on social, political and religious issues and is currently led by Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Texas. He is finishing his three-year term and is scheduled to give the opening address.
Diversity will be a focus of much of the meeting.
The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is 78 percent white, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, and black Catholics have long sought recognition from church leaders.
Israeli soldiers killsuspected militant
NABLUS, West Bank -- Israeli troops raided a Palestinian village in the West Bank today, shot dead a militant suspected of killing Jewish settlers and arrested about 20 villagers, said residents and paramedics.
Also today, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy wounded last week by Israeli fire died of his wounds, doctors said.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, meanwhile, sent a message to Arab and Muslim leaders asking them to support the Palestinians' uprising against Israel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week.
Arafat said the Palestinians were determined not to end their struggle against Israel, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported, quoting from the message.
Only a day earlier, Arafat had pledged in a speech before the United Nations that he would make "every possible effort" to make peace.
Fishermen survivemonths adrift in Pacific
SYDNEY, Australia -- Two fishermen survived almost five months adrift on the Pacific Ocean in a small metal boat by catching fish and birds and drinking rainwater, one of the survivors and a doctor said today.
Two other men died during the torrid journey, which saw them drift nearly 2,480 miles west from Western Samoa to Papua New Guinea.
Lafaili Tofi, 36, and Telea Pa'a, 27, were extremely lucky to be alive, said Dr. Barry Kirby from Alotau Hospital in eastern Papua New Guinea.
"Basically they survived on the rainwater they got while they were drifting, some small fish which they caught and also some birds which landed on the ... vessel," Kirby said in a telephone interview.
The men were fishing off their native Western Samoa on June 20 when a huge load of fish dragged their 20-foot aluminum boat under water.
The men righted the well-built boat by cutting away the fishing lines and two outboard motors but were left powerless as currents pushed them out into open ocean, missing many islands on the journey, Kirby said. Several ships passed by, but none came to their rescue.
The survivors were finally rescued last week by a villager on Normanby Island in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, who paddled out to them after they fired off their last flare.
"They suffered from exposure and were basically on a starvation diet," he said. "One man is unable to walk, he's a stretcher case. He's very, very wasted and he was probably about a week away from death. The other man was quite strong considering his ordeal."
World's lakes at risk
TOKYO -- Nearly 1 billion people are at risk because of overuse and pollution of the world's lakes, said global experts gathered today in central Japan to draw up plans for fighting the trend.
Already, more than half the world's lakes and reservoirs -- representing 90 percent of all liquid fresh water on the Earth's surface -- have been harmed by pollution and drainage, said delegates at the International Conference on Conservation and Management of Lakes.
The problem is likely to get worse as the world's population increases, they said.
"Lakes are among the most vulnerable and difficult to restore of all natural ecological systems, but they have been widely ignored even as they have deteriorated," said Masahisa Nakamura, director of Japan's Lake Biwa Research Institute.