Iranians condemn U.S. over 'axis of evil' label

Iranians condemn U.S.over 'axis of evil' label
TEHRAN, Iran -- Angered by the United States' labeling of Iran as part of an "axis of evil," hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America" on Monday during demonstrations to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
The gathering was much larger than last year's commemorations as Iranians used the occasion to show their anger with President Bush's condemnation of their country in his State of the Union address. Many Iranians who said they rarely join such celebrations spoke of taking to the streets to show solidarity. Men, women and children poured into Tehran's Freedom Square carrying anti-U.S. banners and burning effigies of Uncle Sam.
"This year, despite insults to the great Iranian nation and the trumped-up charges against it, the Iranian nation has commemorated the anniversary of its revolt on a greater scale than before," President Mohammad Khatami said. State television reported that millions of people took part in rallies in all major Iranian cities.
Passenger plane crashes
TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian passenger plane carrying at least 118 people crashed today in the snowy mountains of western Iran near Khorramabad, officials said. No details on the number injured or killed were immediately available, nor was there information on the cause.
Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that 105 passengers and 13 crew members were on board Flight 956. Earlier, Reza Jaafarzadeh, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran, said at least 117 passenger and crew were aboard. The organization said the search teams had so far been unable to reach the crash site near Khorramabad, about 230 miles southwest of the capital, because of heavy snow.
Musharraf to seek aidin meeting with Bush
WASHINGTON -- In a White House meeting this week with President Bush, Pakistan's president hopes to gain help to rejuvenate his country's economy and bolster his political standing with Pakistan's Islamic establishment. Bush is expected to go at least part way toward meeting President Pervez Musharraf's request for debt relief to revive his country's ailing economy, a senior administration official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Musharraf, who arrives today and meets with Bush on Wednesday, will not get everything he wants. Southern congressmen, out to protect the South-based U.S. clothing industry, bitterly oppose Pakistan's move to sell more textiles in the United States. Also, top American diplomats have been carefully evenhanded on the issue of Kashmir, to nurture close ties with another key regional player, Pakistan's bitter rival, India.
Department deniesreported remarks
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department on Monday denied a syndicated columnist's report that Attorney General John Ashcroft had characterized Islam as "a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him." Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said Ashcroft's statement in November to conservative columnist Cal Thomas referred only to the views of terrorists and was not aimed at mainstream Islam or the majority of Muslims.
"The attorney general made reference to extremist suicide terrorists who have hijacked the religion," Dryden said. "The reported remarks do not accurately reflect the attorney general's views." But Thomas said in an interview Monday that he stood by his account of Ashcroft's remarks, which Thomas reported in a Nov. 9 broadcast carried on many Christian radio stations.
Former altar boys sueover reported abuse
BOSTON -- Seven former altar boys who claim a Roman Catholic priest abused them sued the priest, his supervisor and the archdiocese Monday. The lawsuit is the third filed in the past week against retired priest Paul Desilets, 78, who was assigned to Assumption Parish in Bellingham from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.
Desilets, who lives in a retirement home in Quebec, Canada, did not immediately return a message left on the home's answering machine. The plaintiffs in Monday's suit claim the archdiocese and the Rev. Charles Aubut -- Desilets' immediate supervisor -- knew or should have known that Desilets touched the children on the genitals and buttocks "on scores of occasions" but did nothing to stop it.
Aubut, 87, has Alzheimer's disease and could not comment, according to a nursing home employee at the D'Youville Senior Care Center in Lowell, where he lives.
Combined dispatches

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