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Nov. 20, 2006 at 5:01 PM
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Bush responds to Indonesian protesters

BOGOR, Indonesia, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush denied protesters' claims in Indonesia that he was anti-Muslim in his push for furthering democracy.

Bush made the remark after a closed-door meeting Monday with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Bogor presidential palace, 40 miles south of Jakarta, where thousands of protesters have gathered every day of the month to protest Bush's policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting on economics, investment, trade, education, health, technology and military issues, Bush said protesters were wrong if they thought spreading democracy is anti-religious.

"It's the opposite of that -- democracy means you can worship any way you choose, freely," Bush said. "And so, look, people protest, that's a good sign. It's a sign of a healthy society."

Bush later set out on a flight to Hawaii on his way home from the weekend Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.


Report: Kremlin ordered ex-spy poisoned

LONDON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A former Russian spy living in Britain was poisoned on orders from the Kremlin, a defected Russian spy told The Times of London.

Oleg Gordievsky, the most senior KGB agent to defect to Britain, told the newspaper this month's poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko at a London hotel bore all the hallmarks of the old KGB intelligence agency, which is now called the FSB. Litvinenko is hospitalized under police guard at University College Hospital in London.

"Of course it is state-sponsored. He was such an obvious enemy," Gordievsky told The Times.

Litvinenko complained of feeling sick Nov. 1 and was hospitalized, although doctors were mystified. Doctors have discovered that his body contained three times a lethal dose of thallium.

His condition has been getting worse and Monday he was moved into the intensive care unit.

Sergei Ivanov, a spokesman for Russia's foreign intelligence service, said the agency had no involvement in poisoning Litvinenko, Novosti reported.

Litvinenko claimed asylum in Britain in November 2000 and became an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin in published articles.


Protection of suspects' rights urged

BEIJING, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The head of China's agency charged with interpreting the laws has urged the country to do away with illegal interrogation, including torture, of suspects.

Deputy Procurator General Wang Zhenchuan, says illegal interrogation continues in some local judicial practice, reports the official Xinhua news agency.

"Nearly every wrongful verdict in recent years is involved in illegal interrogation," he said. The official estimate says there are about 30 such cases of wrongful convictions but the Xinhua report quoted Wang as saying the real number could be higher.

The report said the supreme people's procuratorate has launched a campaign to clean up illegal interrogation. The effort calls for synchronous video and audio recordings during interrogations in serious cases such as murder and gang crimes.

A law professor suggested that China should borrow other countries' practice for reference in protecting the rights of suspects as well as victims.


School bus flips in Alabama, 4 dead

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A school bus flipped Monday in Huntsville, Ala., killing four high school students, police officials said.

The bus, carrying students from Lee County High School, flipped off Interstate 565 near Church Street, reported WHNT-TV, Huntsville, reported.

Local police called on every available ambulance in the county and have asked neighboring counties to send emergency responders. Huntsville Hospital and other nearby medical facilities have been told to prepare for incoming patients from the crash.


Farmer's market crash driver avoids jail

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An elderly man was given probation rather than being sent to prison for a horrific accident that killed 10 people at a Santa Monica, Calif., farmer's market.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson on Monday opted to allow 89-year-old George Weller to remain home due to his age and poor health despite his conviction on 10 counts of manslaughter.

The sentence was handed down following a series of statements made by family members of the victims.

Weller was behind the wheel of a Buick that plowed through the crowded street market in 2003, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60 others. Although Weller maintained he had stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, prosecutors charged him based on the relatively long distance he traveled without stopping.

KNBC-TV in Los Angeles said defense pre-sentencing filed with the court said Weller's health was in decline and that he suffered from a bad heart, prostate cancer and fluid on the brain.

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