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President celebrates U.S.-Mexico friendship



Published: Sat, May 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



President celebratesU.S.-Mexico friendship

WASHINGTON -- Singing "Ai, yai, yai, yai!" with a mariachi trio, President Bush celebrated Cinco de Mayo two days early Friday and pledged to keep Mexico his top foreign-policy priority.

The Mexican holiday, which celebrates the 1862 victory of Mexican soldiers over the French at the Battle of Puebla, is an appropriate time to celebrate the friendship between Mexico and the United States, Bush told an audience of Mexican-Americans invited to the White House East Room.

"That victory continues to inspire liberty-loving people all across the globe. It reminds us that the cost of freedom is always high, but it is never too high," Bush said, saluting Mexico's help in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

He clapped along to the music of Mexican singer Pedro Fernandez, who was accompanied by a mariachi trio in broad sombreros. When the group got to the popular refrain of the song "Cielito Lindo," Bush mouthed the Spanish words from his seat.

"Pedro, you're awesome," he said afterward. "I'm not sure how you say that in Spanish -- or Mexicano. Brillante?"

He addressed first lady Laura Bush, seated in the front row in a festive suit of strawberry red, as "mi esposa, mi amor" -- my wife, my love.

Explorer to hunt forKennedy's PT boat

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The undersea explorer who found the Titanic will search the Pacific around the Solomon Islands for the remains of PT-109, John F. Kennedy's World War II boat.

Robert Ballard plans to use remote cameras to find for the 80-foot, wooden-hulled patrol torpedo boat that was commanded by Kennedy. National Geographic is working with Ballard on the search, set for this month.

It may prove a difficult task. PT-109 sank on Aug. 2, 1943, after it was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer. Two members of Kennedy's crew died in the collision. The young naval officer and 10 other survivors swam 15 hours to reach an island.

Kennedy pulled an injured crewmate to safety by swimming with a strap from the man's lifejacket in his teeth. They later swam to another island, where Kennedy carved a message into a coconut and gave it to a native islander to bring to rescuers.

In 1999, Ballard said PT-109 is "not lost, just misplaced, but it's like looking for a coffin from an airplane in a zone where they've dumped a lot of unexploded ordnance. It's no fun."

A film and magazine article on the expedition are planned as part of a presentation on the 60th anniversary of World War II battles in the Pacific.

Radioactive devicesmissing, NRC says

WASHINGTON -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledges about 1,500 devices containing radioactive material have disappeared around the nation over the past five years, with more than half still missing, a congressman said Friday.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., called it "inexcusable that we should have so many of these radioactive sources turn up stolen, lost or missing." He suggested the material -- if enough were accumulated -- could be used to fashion a so-called dirty bomb.

An NRC spokesman confirmed the numbers provided to Markey, but said the radioactive devices -- used everywhere from hospitals to construction sites to building exit signs -- individually contained only very small amounts of radioactive material.

"We have no reason to believe that somebody is systematically collecting this material," including terrorists, said NRC spokesman Victor Dricks.

Inside the royal train

LONDON -- Attempting to debunk perceptions of opulence aboard the royal train, Buckingham Palace on Friday allowed Britons a rare glimpse of some of the train's more modest carriages.

But Queen Elizabeth II's private quarters were off-limits to reporters.

"There is a perception that the royal train is a bit like the Orient Express," said Tim Hewlett, the queen's travel director. "But I hope it will show that there are not many bathroom furnishings you could not get in Homebase or B & amp;Q," referring to two popular chain stores.

Interest in the train has been heightened by the queen's decision to use it for a Golden Jubilee national tour. Some of the train's interiors have been glimpsed before in TV documentaries about the royals.

Reporters toured a no-frills carriage -- used by senior royal staff -- with single bunk-style beds, pink plastic bathware and clear plastic shower curtains.

Associated Press




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