By BILL STRAUB
Scripps Howard News Service
October 15, 2005
The massive Asian earthquake that struck on Oct. 8 has devastated Pakistan and the surrounding region. Officials report at least 25,000 dead, and some remote villages remain outside the government's reach. The United Nations estimates the quake and resulting aftershocks have left more than 1 million homeless. The United States and other nations are providing relief.
Merkel leads Germany
Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany's primary conservative party, will become the chancellor in a new coalition government, replacing incumbent Gerhard Schroeder. The deal was reached after inconclusive results in elections earlier this month. Merkel is expected to seek friendlier relations with the United States.
Pinter takes Nobel
British playwright Harold Pinter, 75, who utilized spare language and long silences in seminal works like "The Caretaker" and "The Birthday Party," was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday. A critic of U.S. foreign policy as well as the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pinter generally is considered the most influential British playwright of his generation.
Miers faces conservative storm
White House counsel Harriet Miers, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, continued to face intense criticism from an unexpected source - conservatives. Bush continued to express support for his longtime friend, asserting that her deep Christian convictions played a role in his decision to nominate her.
Guatemala digs out
Guatemala continued digging out from the massive mudslides that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Stan, a storm that inundated the Central American nation. The government in Guatemala City anticipates the death toll will reach 1,300.
Wilson probe continues
The CIA-leak investigation that has broiled several high-level Bush administration officials rumbled on. New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with the special grand jury probing the case, appeared for a second time to discuss her communications with "Scooter" Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to determine the identity of the person who outed Valerie Plame Wilson, an undercover CIA agent. President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, made his fourth grand-jury appearance.
Officials battle bird flu
International health officials are working to stop the spread of avian flu, which has hit a large portion of Asia. The strain does not easily infect humans. However, 117 people, mostly those with repeated contact with infected poultry, have caught it over the last two years, and 60 have died, mostly in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Deepening concerns, the European Union said the bird-flu virus found in Turkish poultry was one that researchers fear could mutate into a human virus and trigger a pandemic. Scientists are following the virus in birds out of concern that it could mutate into a dangerous human pandemic strain.
Rain pelts U.S. Northeast
Sections of the Northeast, dry for much of the summer, are suffering through more than a week of rain that flooded neighborhoods from New Jersey to New Hampshire and wreaked havoc with roads and transportation systems. Northern New Jersey received as much as 4-1/2 inches of rain in 48 hours, and at least 10 people died throughout the Northeast as a result of the storms.
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