Michael McClinton Accepts Plea Deal To Testify Against O.J. Simpson

The third man accused of taking part with OJ Simpson in a hotel armed hold-up has struck a deal and agreed to give evidence against the former sports star.

Michael McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas, became the third man to agree to plead guilty to reduced charges in the case.

He told Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure he will plead guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He could receive probation or up to 11 years in prison.

According to police reports, McClinton brought two guns -- at Simpson's request -- to a September 13 confrontation with collectibles dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley. McClinton wielded one gun and acted like a police officer, according to others in the hotel room.

McClinton's testimony would provide prosecutors with another account contradicting Simpson's claim that no guns were involved when he went to retrieve items he said belonged to him. In brief comments outside the courtroom, his lawyer, William Terry, wouldn't say what testimony McClinton would provide.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has criticized Clark County District Attorney David Roger for "giving away the courthouse" while cutting deals with co-defendants.

Simpson and co-defendants Clarence Stewart and Charles Ehrlich face 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and coercion, and one gross misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime. A kidnapping conviction alone could result in a sentence of life in prison with parole.

Charles Cashmore and Walter Alexander have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to testify against the three men.

Alexander, a Simpson golfing buddy from Mesa, Arizona, told police that Simpson said to bring guns, and told him later to deny that guns were used. Alexander pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit robbery, and could face probation or up to six years in prison.

Cashmore, a union laborer from Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to felony accessory to robbery. He could receive probation or up to five years in prison.

Authorities say memorabilia taken from the hotel room included football game balls signed by Simpson, Joe Montana lithographs, baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider, photos of Simpson with the Heisman Trophy, and framed awards and plaques, together valued at as much as $100,000, according to police reports.

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Nigerian Oilfield Commandos Kidnapped Six Workers From Oil Vessel

Gunmen in speedboats kidnapped six workers from an oil vessel, off Nigeria's coast at dawn on Sunday, the second attack on an oilfield in a week, officials said.

The Polish, Filipino and Nigerian workers were seized from the Mystras, some 85 kilometers (50 miles) offshore, Italian energy giant Eni SpA said on its Web site. Another Nigerian worker was reported to have been wounded in the leg, the statement said.

The Mystras, used for production, storage and offloading crude oil, is capable of producing 80,000 barrels of oil per day. An Eni spokeswoman refused further comment.

Militants have kidnapped more than 150 foreigners this year to press their demands for local control of oil revenues. The attacks since late 2005 have cut Nigeria's regular output by about 20 percent, helping send crude prices toward all-time highs.

Locals have for years demanded a greater share of the wealth in Africa's largest crude producer, and the region remains desperately poor despite its great natural bounty.

The government of President Umaru Yar'Adua has stepped up efforts to maintain calm in the Niger Delta, and violence has waned since he took power on May 29. But the latest attacks could set back plans for formal talks between the government and the main armed groups.

A militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Are Looking For A House In Europe

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are looking for a house in Europe so that their four children and future offspring can have a "broad vision of the world," the actor said in a interview.

"While we are very nomadic, we would like to have a base in Europe. More attention is paid here to what is going on in the world and it is easier to get to Africa and Asia from here," he told XL Semanal, the weekly magazine supplement of the ABC newspaper.

"We want our children to have a broad vision of the world. Spain, Italy and France have lots of quality of life and that is healthy," he added.

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www.sandiego.gov Gives Details Of Affected Homes In California Wildfires

San Diego City Councilman Brian Maienschein is walking neighborhoods and helping compile a list of homes that have been destroyed or badly damaged. He said officials will post the list on the city's Web site soon, www.sandiego.gov.

It is estimated that more than a half million people had been ordered from San Diego County homes Tuesday as wildfires rage from the Mexican border to north of Los Angeles.

Across Southern California, more than 1,300 homes had been reduced to ashes, officials said Tuesday.

About 1,000 homes have been destroyed in San Diego County alone.

A second civilian has died in the wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday afternoon. It provided no details.

Fears grew north of Los Angeles that the winds may fan three wildfires into one monster blaze, with too little resources available to fight it.

Those fires threaten more than 56,000 homes.

In San Diego County, at least 513,000 residents had been ordered to find refuge in shelters, schools and stadiums as fires pushed into new areas Tuesday.

A spokesman for the county's emergency effort told Sacramento TV station KCRA that the evacuations amount to "a mass migration."

New evacuation orders are being added frequently to the San Diego Office of Emergency Services Web site.

"People are worried," he said. "They just want to know, even if their homes are destroyed."

And officials said the crisis is far from over.

"It will not end ... until it reaches the ocean or the winds turn around," San Diego Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Cartelli said Tuesday.

Firefighters expected no break from the winds fueling the fires until midday Thursday, said Harvey Johnson, deputy administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At least 17 wildfires have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego since the weekend. Three of those fires were added to the list Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy ordered sailors out of barracks and onto ships to make room for evacuees.

In an e-mail to CNN, Jonathan Gallen, a doctor in Poway, described how the fires quickly closed in on his neighborhood Monday.

"My pool was completely black with soot. Like the 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' was about to walk out of there," Gallen wrote. "The soot was falling so heavily that it blocked out the sun. There was a smoke cloud above our home that seemed to stretch for miles. This was bad."

National Guard troops were posted at Qualcomm Stadium, home to the NFL's San Diego Chargers, as it became a temporary home to 10,000 fire evacuees, many whose eyes were red -- a combination of fatigue and irritation from smoke. Volunteers tried to keep spirits up by handing out chairs, cots, food and water.

Among the volunteers was Tony Bradley, a restaurant worker by night and a magician by day. He strode through the crowd captivating youngsters by twisting balloons into the shapes of animals. "That's what I'm here for, just to make them happy, make them forget about what's going on," he said.

Five of San Diego's 23 emergency shelters reached capacity Monday evening.

Sean McGough and his family fled their home in El Cajon for Qualcomm early Tuesday as the flames arrived.

"I looked out and saw the mountain engulfed in flames with a trail at least three miles long coming down," McGough said.

"When I went to bed at midnight, nothing in the East County was any immediate threat. ... Two hours later is when we got the news we needed to get out of our homes."

Anticipating more arrivals at the stadium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered 25,000 cots early Tuesday afternoon.

President Bush issued an emergency declaration Tuesday for seven California counties, clearing the way for federal disaster relief. The president will visit the area Thursday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Emergency officials asked for food and water for evacuees and told those still in their homes to cut electrical use so the power grid is not strained.

The Witch Fire consumed 164,000 acres, 500 homes and 100 commercial buildings between Sunday afternoon and early Tuesday, moving on a fast 20-mile westward path from its origins near Ramona into the more populated San Diego city limits and across Interstate 15. The Pacific coast was barely five miles west of the fire line early Tuesday.

"It's probably the worst this county has ever had, well in excess of the Cedar Fire. ... It looks like it's going to get worse, and we want everybody to be prepared and understand," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender said.

Bush's declaration covers the same seven counties that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cited Monday: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The U.S. Marines' Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, told only "key and essential personnel" to report to duty Tuesday. The Rice Fire is burning east of the base. At about 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET), there were two fires burning on the property of Camp Pendleton.

Residents of Fallbrook, adjacent to Camp Pendleton, evacuated as the Rice Fire burned 1,500 acres and destroyed 50 homes and damaged 30 more in nearby Rice Canyon.

A "major natural gas line leading into" Fallbrook was ruptured Tuesday afternoon and is on fire, according to the California Highway Patrol Web site.

Southeast of San Diego, the Harris Fire burned 25,000 acres. The blaze claimed the only life lost so far on Sunday and injured 17 civilians and five firefighters.

Officials said they're concerned about the fire spreading to San Miguel Mountain, the site of important communications towers.

Early Tuesday, a new fire was reported on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, northeast of Escondido, according to a state fire report monitored by the San Diego Union-Tribune. The fire has destroyed 40 houses, and people were being evacuated to the nearby Palomar Observatory, the report said.

In northern Los Angeles County, three fires have charred nearly 93,000 acres, and fire officials said they fear the Ranch, Buckweed and Magic fires could merge.

"We want to keep these fires as small as we can," said Capt. Barry Parker of the Ventura County Fire Department. If they come together, he said, "the only good thing is we would be able to share more resources."

He added, "But we would rather keep the fires individually fought."

The 54,000-acre Ranch Fire grew by nearly 20,000 acres overnight and is two miles away from the 1,200-acre Magic Fire. The blazes are straddling the line between Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Parker said he wasn't sure if they had enough resources.

"We're using a limited amount of resources to go in and fight these fires," he said. "We've got about 600 people on the Ranch Fire; we normally would have about 1,500.

"So we have to be absolutely surgical in how we plan and how we tactically use our fire equipment because we just simply don't have enough fire engines in the state of California to battle these blazes."

Two fires that erupted Monday in San Bernardino County near Lake Arrowhead have destroyed at least 123 structures and charred 1,800 acres, said Loretta Benavidez, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest. Several communities in the area, including Green Valley Lake, Arrowbear and Running Springs, were evacuated.

Aerial views of the Lake Arrowhead fires showed more homes burning there Tuesday.

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Osama Bin Laden Attempts To Unite Insurgent Groups In Iraq

In an audio recorded message aired by Al Jazeera television to al Qaeda and other groups in Iraq on Monday, Osama bin Laden urged them to unify their forces and speak with one voice, that of the Islamic nation.

"The interest of the Islamic nation surpasses that of a group ... the interest of the (Islamic) nation is more important than that of a state," said a voice which sounded like the al Qaeda leader's.

"The strength of faith is in the strength of the bond between Muslims and not that of a tribe, nationalism or an organization.

"I advise ... our brothers, particularly those in al Qaeda wherever they may be, to avoid fanatically following a person or a group," he said.

Al Jazeera said the tape was entitled "message to the people of Iraq." It was not clear from the part of the tape aired when it had been recorded.

Bin Laden said he was addressing "mujahideen (holy warriors) in Iraq," Sunni Muslim militant groups fighting U.S.-led forces. Al Qaeda belongs to a school of Islam which regards members of Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority as heretics.

Al Jazeera said bin Laden urged Iraqi tribes to uphold their "tradition of resisting" occupation, in an apparent reference to the presence of British forces in Iraq in the last century.

The speaker warned insurgents against enemy attempts to drive wedges between groups by planting agents among them, and said such agents should be punished, but only after their guilt was established through thorough investigations.

Iraq's wing of al Qaeda is one of the key groups fighting U.S.-led forces and the Baghdad government. Bin Laden's followers have angered other Sunni groups and tribes through their hardline interpretations of Islam and indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Some Sunni groups have joined forces with al Qaeda to set up what they call an Islamic State in Iraq, but other groups and tribal leaders have rejected the move.

Last month, bin Laden issued three messages, including a video marking al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington in which about 3,000 people were killed.

Bin Laden said in the video that United States was vulnerable despite its power and insisted only conversion to Islam would end the conflict.

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Mel Gibson Becomes A Grand Father As Home Is Threatened By Inferno

Mel Gibson has become a granddad. The Oscar winner's daughter Hannah had a baby, believed to be a boy. Hannah is the only daughter of Gibson and his wife, Robyn. The joyous event reportedly happened on the 10th of October, but so far there's no official word on whether it's true. Hollywood blogs are in overdrive, talking up the story, but the Gibson clan has been silent so far. It's it's true, Mel's probably happy his large family is growing even more: he's married with seven children.

In an ongoing development, One person was killed, 11 people were seriously injured and several homes were destroyed, forcing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency in seven of the state's counties.

A wall of flames raced to the perimeter of the gated estate where Mel Gibson and Newton-John have multimillion-dollar homes, with local firefighters managing to prevent the blaze from spreading into the evacuated compound.

The fire department currently battling the glamorous star fires of Malibu have warned locals to take cover if Mel Gibson's liquor supply catches fire.

An expert binge drinker said: "Liquor is highly flammable and will explode if introduced to fire. The strength of the explosion will depend on the amount of liquor at the site."

It is not known how much liquor Gibson has at his fire-threatened Malibu home, but Gibson watchers fear it has the potential to be one of the largest non-terror based explosions in US history.

The fire department have established a 50 mile explosion zone with the epicenter at Mel Gibson's residence.

The fire, driven by powerful winds, forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the Malibu Hills and briefly threatened a university.

Meteorologist Ken Clark, of AccuWeather, said the winds were expected to get worse today.

Los Angeles County fire Chief Michael Freeman said at least three homes and two commercial buildings were destroyed in the area and nine other homes were damaged.

He said the fire was expected to burn for another two to three days.

Authorities said downed power lines were believed to have started the blaze.

Wildfires had been widely expected in southern California over the weekend as hot weather and strong Santa Ana winds marked the height of the wildfire season after one of the driest years on record.

Malibu's 13,000 residents include Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey, Barbra Streisand, Ted Danson, Jane Seymour and director James Cameron.

The community is also home to about 25 rehabilitation facilities, including Promises Residential Treatment Centre, whose guests have included Britney Spears, Ben Affleck, Charlie Sheen, Diana Ross and Matthew Perry.

Summit Centre, the rehabilitation facility which disgraced West Coast Eagles star Ben Cousins was expected to check into this week for treatment, was under threat from flames yesterday.

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Turkey To Strike When Diplomacy Gets To A Deadlock

Thomas Grove

Turkey said on Monday it will exhaust diplomatic channels before launching any military strike into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels, who killed at least a dozen Turkish soldiers in fighting over the weekend.

Turkey has built up its forces along the border with Iraq in anticipation of an incursion against rebel bases but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he will hold off for a few days to let the United States try to curb the Kurdish separatists.

Washington, in turn, urged the Iraqi government on Monday to act swiftly to stop Kurdish rebels from mounting further attacks in Turkey.

"We do not want to see wider military action on the northern border," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Washington and Iraq have been calling on Turkey to refrain from a military push into the largely autonomous Kurdish region, one of the few relatively stable areas since a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The office of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, told Reuters the rebels would announce a ceasefire on Monday evening.

Erdogan is under pressure from his military and the public to strike in Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, who have killed some 40 soldiers in the past month.

After speaking with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday, Erdogan agreed to hold off for a few days and he left for an official visit to Britain on Monday.

Erdogan has been resisting a cross-border operation and his foreign minister, Ali Babacan, was quoted on Monday as saying: "We will try all diplomatic means before carrying out any military operation."

But the decades-long fight against the PKK, which wants an independent homeland in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, is highly emotive and Ankara confirmed eight of its soldiers were missing after the recent fighting.

The pro-PKK Firat news agency said eight soldiers had been captured and gave the names of seven men. Turkey has denied any of its soldiers were captured in the fighting.


The Turkish lira currency fell three percent to 1.2360 against the dollar and the Istanbul stock exchange fell five percent on Monday on the concerns of a cross-border offensive.

Turkey's tougher stance has helped propel global oil prices to record highs over the past week. The PKK has said it might target pipelines carrying Iraqi and Caspian crude across Turkey.

The General Staff said 12 soldiers died in Sunday's fighting and 34 rebels had been killed in an army offensive backed up by attack helicopters and artillery over the past two days.

Turkey has deployed as many as 100,000 troops, backed by tanks, F-16 fighter jets and helicopter gunships along its border with Iraq in anticipation of a possible incursion.

A Reuters reporter said he saw army trucks transporting artillery guns and other weaponry towards the border.

Turkey's tougher stance has helped propel global oil prices to record highs over the past week. The PKK has said it might target pipelines carrying Iraqi and Caspian crude across Turkey.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemned Sunday's attacks.

"Attacks from Iraqi territory need to be dealt with swiftly by the Iraqi government and Kurdish Regional authorities," White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

(Additional reporting by Gareth Jones and Evren Mesci in Ankara and Emma Ross-Thomas in Istanbul)

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Love At First Sight

Jane Sullivan

One enchanted evening, Rachael Treasure glimpsed the man of her dreams across a crowded Gippsland pub. She was pissed on rum but the moment she set eyes on him, she knew.

"It's the story of love at first sight," she writes. "It's the story of two souls who meet because it was written on the black page of the night sky in stars."

He was a handsome farm lad, clean-cut, strong. He was gentle, boyish, innocent, self-contained and wise. All this she saw. And she'd seen him twice before. Once, in a schoolgirl fantasy, where she'd gone riding with a dream man. The second time - which she remembered later - in a photograph on a tourist brochure: Discover the Treasures of the High Country.

She couldn't push her way through the crowd, so she climbed over booths and tables until she reached the seat opposite him, sat down and said "Hi" to John Treasure. Ten years later, they are married and living happily-ever-after on a farm in Tasmania, with two children and lots of animals.

It sounds like an episode from McLeod's Daughters but Treasure, a bestselling novelist, insists it's true. She tells her story in How We Met, a collection of true stories from 21 writers about the first meeting with the love of their lives. Most of these stories are about gorgeous, irresistible men: only three of the contributors are male. Perhaps real-life romance is still largely the woman writer's domain.

The book is a grand flirtation with that captivating idea that we all have one special person out there for us; that it is written in the stars that sooner or later we will meet and fall in love. Not everyone believes in this idea quite as wholeheartedly as Rachael Treasure. Some writers talk about fate and magic in a teasing, tongue-in-cheek way. Maggie Alderson says she met her second husband because she was wearing her magic boots.

But there's a pervasive feeling that much more is at work than lust and alcohol (though they help). Some strange and unexplained moment of instant recognition is going on; and even if you can't quite believe that you have found your soul mate, you passionately want to believe it.

"We shook hands and we smiled and I knew," writes Lisa Jewell of her first meeting with her workmate, Jascha. They were going to be together. And it happened, but only after a long time. When they met, Jewell was unhappily married and Jascha had a girlfriend.

Jewell spent many lunch times gazing wistfully at Jascha's bum in the sandwich queue. They became friends but the decisive moment was when they were standing back to back at a party, each talking to other people, and somehow they started holding hands.

Myfanwy Jones began a passionate affair when she reluctantly went to a bar in Saigon, met a friend of a friend and had "an instant of deeper recognition ... Our eyes locked. My stomach contracted. Everything else slipped - momentarily - away." What followed were days of steamy sex, and fears of both intimacy and parting. "We took reels of photos of each other, and in all of them our faces are as soft, open and puzzled as fresh wounds."

"Fate has a shape, a colour and a screech of wheels," writes Susan Kurosawa. If the red Toyota Corolla hadn't pulled out of a parking spot just as she was driving by, she would never have gone to the cocktail party where she met her "wonderful mad-hatter of a man", Graeme Blundell.

And if at first fate doesn't succeed, it tries again. Jessica Adams was plunged into unrequited love when she met her flatmate, Peter. She used to crawl into his water bed when he was out. They eventually got together, broke up and reconciled several times, separated after 10 years and came together 10 years later: "I have often heard it said that soul mates are repeatedly thrown together by the gods, until they find each other."

But are those first meetings really so earthshaking, or are they romanticised in hindsight?

"You know, of course, that stories of first meetings are not to be trusted," writes Danielle Wood. She says that when two lovers meet, the story of their meeting lies empty at their feet, like an uninflated balloon. As their time together progresses, the balloon begins to swell with significance.

In her case, she wished a lover into existence. She was arguing with her then boyfriend, as usual, and he was saying - as he often did - that he was not sure he wanted to be in a relationship. "You know," she said, "the next person I fall in love with is going to want to be with me. And I'm going to want to be with him. And it's going to be that simple." And it was.

Sometimes lovers' meetings are enhanced by the thrill of discovering things in common, however banal. Lisa Jewell and her Jascha were over the moon when they found out they were both obsessed with chilli and curries. When Jessica Adams went for her final reunion with Peter, she took off her glasses at the last minute so he wouldn't think she was an Ugly Betty. Later, she discovered he had also taken off his glasses at the last minute. They told each other they hadn't changed a bit. "Then we put our glasses back on and went into shock."

Not all first meetings are magic. Peter Yeldham was married for 57 years, until his wife's death last year. They met on a blind date, he was drunk, she told him he was an arsehole and she never wanted to see him again. A week later, he saw her going into a cinema, followed her in and sat beside her. They got to talking and laughing, came out, ran down to the beach and saw a huge moon hanging over Sydney Harbour: "It was so stupidly romantic we started to laugh."

When Lee Tulloch met her man, she assumed at first that he must be gay, because they were brought together by a mutual gay friend with the wince-making line: "It's a pity a good-looking chick like Lee can't get a man."

Some loves bloom as rebellion. Margaret Fink fell for a bohemian poet, a libertine old enough to be her father, and went to live with him - a shocking enough act in 1950s Sydney. Her mother called him "that horrible creature".

Other loves are innocent and poignant. Anne Bartlett and her friend Russ were earnest, chaste Christians. He proposed to her: it was something God was doing, he said, didn't she feel it, too? She did. He kissed her for the first time, "a small, shy kiss, like a dragonfly hovering on water". She was disappointed. From these tentative beginnings came 35 years together, four children, grandchildren.

And Elizabeth Stead writes that after 50 years she and "Tropics" are "still secured along each other, aged but not wearied."

In some lives there has been more than one special person. Marion Halligan was married for 35 years and wrote about mourning her husband's death in her novel The Fog Garden. But her story in this book is about another writer, a poet whom she first met when both their spouses were dying.

Later, after they were both widowed, he became her "gentleman caller". They drove around together admiring Georgian chimneys and pretending to buy real estate. Let's just be friends, she said: but then, why not be lovers, too? Their shared experience is important: "it is this awareness of death that makes us value the life we live so completely".

Sometimes, when couples come together in later life, their children disapprove. My children were awful, Halligan says: "They behaved like the strict Italian parents of a beautiful 17-year-old virgin who was being seduced by a sleazy older man." When Susan Kurosawa took up with Graeme Blundell, her sons just told her that if he hurt her, they would never forgive him.

The special person is always given a glowing portrait but occasionally there is a hint that the beloved is less than perfect. Di Morrissey met Peter, her handsome Californian, on board ship: they married and had two children. Nowadays they remain friends, though each is married to another partner. Peter went shopping for her beautiful engagement ring: "Peter made the decisions and I never questioned them, because his choice always seemed the right thing to do." You wonder if perhaps there came a time when Morrissey wanted to make a few decisions of her own.

Marion von Adlerstein is honest about the shortcomings of her late husband, Baron Hans Heinrich Vladimir Sergei Crull von Adlerstein, who at their first meeting was every bit as noble and commanding as his name. They planned marriage but she didn't know that he hadn't left his wife. He would fly into jealous rages. But he was still the love of her life: "I cannot say that we lived happily ever after but I can say that we lived and there were few dull moments."

Some romances are clearly never going to last. Paige Kilponen's exotic holiday fling with an Italian boy is so picture-book perfect that we know it is too good to be true - especially when she discovers he is prone to telling "little stories".

And then there are the loves that should work but somehow never do. Elly Varrenti first kissed the love of her life, a Bob Dylan lookalike boy, backstage at a school play. It was the start of a 20-year love affair. They weren't always together, and often when they came together one of them was officially with someone else. They were hooked on the excitement of the occasional connection. "Silly," she says, "but he always made me think that if only the planets were lined up just right on the night, we would finally be together for real." Eventually, he left her for real. "I still love him. But something is broken." And now he doesn't look a bit like Dylan.

"We met in a cupboard and I broke his heart," writes Kate Veitch. Unlike most of the dream men in this book, Troy was not handsome, not dangerous. "For the first time in my tempestuous life I had a boyfriend who was sane and good and committed to me, who wanted my happiness as much as his own." And that, you can't help thinking, was precisely the reason why she had to leave him.

But in the end, what do we want from a relationship? Susan Kurosawa concludes that for all the romance and passion, what we really want is companionship and utter loyalty. She remembers taking Blundell to hospital when he had a bad case of kidney stones, holding his hand all night as he stayed in a morphine dream. "I squeezed his hand and he stirred in his sleep. 'Don't you dare leave us alone.'"

But of course in every love affair, someone is eventually left alone. Anne Bartlett anticipates the last meeting: "Oh, my love. One day, one terrible day, there will come a mighty wrenching and tearing. May we have the grace to give that day its place. The seed must burst the pod. Love is stronger than death."
How We Met is published by Penguin at the end of this month. All royalties from sales go to the Sydney Centre of International PEN.

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German Wine Wins An International Contest In Canberra

A German wine, described as having a flavour that lasts for five minutes after tasting, has won an international contest in Canberra.

A 2006 vintage of Weingut Juliusspital Iphofer Julius-Echterberg Riesling Beernauslese - quite a mouthful in more ways than one - was named world's best at Canberra International Riesling Challenge.

The winning wine hails from the Franconian region, east of Frankfurt, which is famous for producing dry wines in the distinctive "Bocksbeutels" - a flat round bottle made famous by the popular Mateus Rose.

Challenge chairman Ken Helm, a Canberra region vigneron, described the winner as a sweet-style riesling with a flavour that doesn't go away.

"It's smooth and extremely elegant with a pleasant flavour that hangs around - you can still taste it five minutes later," he said.

"It is in the middle range of sweetness and is very well-balanced in acid and flavour".

A 2002 St Helga Eden Valley drop from the Orlando stable won the award for best Australian/New Zealand riesling.

It was the second time the vintage has won an award at the challenge after taking out the best museum class (older than four years) last year.

"The St Helga is a dry wine with enormous flavour and balance but no harshness," Mr Helm said.

"People often believe that rieslings don't age well but the judges agree that this wine shows it will drink well during the next 20 years."

The competition, which has been running for eight years, reinforced the taste divide between the two hemispheres: the southern wineries were strongest with the dry-style entries with their northern counterparts excelling in the sweeter varieties.

Mr Helm said the judges had a difficult job separating the top 22 Australian wines.

"We were surprised by the enormous quality of the wines," he said.

"We normally give out awards to the top 10 but this year the judges went down to 22.

"For the first time they will all get the top 10 sticker."

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US President George W. Bush Announces New Sanctions Against The Myanmar Junta

US President George W. Bush has announced new sanctions against the Myanmar junta, the announcement came following the president's address at the UN general assembly where he focussed the attention of the international community on the need to take action against the Burmese regime.

President Bush ordered the Treasury Department Friday to freeze the financial assets of additional members of the repressive military junta. He also acted to tighten controls on U.S. exports to Myanmar, also known as Burma, and called on the governments of China and India to do more to pressure the government of the Southeast Asian nation.

"Monks have been beaten and killed. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have been arrested," Bush said in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

"Burma's rulers continue to defy the world's just demands to stop their vicious persecution."

Last month, tens of thousands of people turned out for rallies, which started as protests of sharp fuel increases and later snowballed into the largest show of government dissent in decades. The junta claims that 10 people were killed when troops opened fire on demonstrators to disperse them, but diplomats and dissidents say the death toll is likely much higher.

In response, the Bush administration froze the assets that individuals responsible for the crackdown have in U.S. banks or other financial institutions under U.S. jurisdiction. The administration also prohibited any U.S. citizens from doing business with the designated individuals. Among those targeted for the sanctions were the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and the No. 2 man in the military regime, Deputy Senior Gen. Maung Aye.

The crackdown also prompted first lady Laura Bush to make personal appeals for support for Myanmar citizens, saying the acts of violence "shame the military regime."

Mrs. Bush joined him as he announced his new sanctions.

The president said the Treasury Department has designated 11 more leaders of the junta for sanctions. Bush also issued a new executive order that designates an additional 12 individuals and entities for sanctions. The executive order grants the Treasury Department expanded authority to sanction individuals responsible for human rights abuses as well as public corruption as well as those who support and provide financial backing to them or the government of Burma.

"Burmese authorities claim they desire reconciliation. Well, they need to match those words with actions," Bush said.

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US Army Officer In Iraq Charge For Possessing Secret Military Document

A senior US Army officer in Iraq was found guilty of possessing thousands of secret military documents that the prosecution in his court martial argued could have benefited a foreign power.

Lieutenant-Colonel William Steele, 52, was acquitted on the more serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a sentence of life imprisonment, for allowing security detainees to use his mobile telephone for unmonitored calls.

He faces up to 10 years' imprisonment on the secret documents charge. He was also found guilty of having an inappropriate relationship with an Iraqi woman interpreter and refusing to obey an order.

Steele is the former commander of Camp Cropper, a US detention centre near Baghdad airport where he oversaw the detention of Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to the former Iraqi leader's execution on December 30.

Earlier, prosecutor Captain Michael Rizzotti told the court that nearly 12,000 secret documents had also been found in a search of Steele's living quarters in Camp Victory, the main US base in Baghdad.

"(They were) documents that if (they had) fallen into the wrong hands could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation. He did not get authority to take these documents," Rizzotti said.

Much of the trial was held in closed session because of the sensitive nature of the documents, but reporters were given a glimpse of one which contained aerial photographs of Kandahar airbase and Bagram airfield in Afghanistan.

The court also heard how Steele sent intimate emails to his interpreter Bahar Ahmed Suseyi, including one saying "there are a few things I need to do with you/to you" and planned to take her with him on a trip to Qatar.

The prosecution had argued that he openly favoured Suseyi over other interpreters and provided her with special privileges. Suseyi herself testified that she had a professional relationship with the colonel and thought of him as a friend.

Prosecutors struggled from the beginning to make the case of aiding the enemy, with the judge, Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Grammel, warning at the start of the trial that they would have to prove that detainees still qualified as enemies.

Rizzotti told the court that in one instance Steele had allowed an al-Qaeda detainee, identified only as ISN 2184, "responsible for hundreds of deaths of coalition forces" to make a five minute unmonitored telephone call in Arabic.

"We'll never know who was called, we'll never know what was said. ... It's the equivalent of putting an AK-47 in his hand.

"He aided the enemy," Rizzotti said.

Steele opted not to testify, but his defence team argued that allowing detainees to use his mobile phone did not justify such a charge and that the prosecution had failed to prove that the detainees still posed a security threat.

He was the highest-ranking US officer to face a charge of aiding the enemy since Captain James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was charged in September 2003. The army eventually dropped the case.

Steele had already pleaded guilty to three other charges, including one of possession of pornography, which each carry a maximum sentence of two years.

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O.J. Simpson's Accomplice, Charles Howard Cashmore Testifies Against Him

Charles Howard Cashmore an accomplice of O.J. Simpson in a raid on a hotel suite, will plead guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for testimony against the disgraced football legend and four other defendants.

He is expected to testify that two of his co-accused, Walter Alexander and Michael McClinton, were armed when they entered a Las Vegas hotel room with Simpson and confronted two sports memorabilia dealers, his lawyer Edward Miley said Friday.

"The only people with guns that he knew of were Alexander and McClinton," Miley said.

Robert Dennis Rentzer, Alexander's lawyer, declined to comment on the presence of a weapon during the Sept. 13 incident.

"I owe the district attorney an answer to that question before the press," he said.

Cashmore, who surrendered to police six days later, will plead guilty to being an accessory to robbery, Miley said. The reduced felony charge comes with a maximum five-year jail term.

"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Miley said of Cashmore, a Las Vegas-area laborer, bartender and disc jockey.

Miley says Cashmore was unarmed during the alleged robbery and only met Simpson minutes before the men barged into the Palace Station Casino hotel room.

"O.J. says, 'Hey I've got to move some stuff, can you help?'" Miley said.

Simpson, 60, is charged with 11 criminal offences and could face life in prison if convicted.

According to police reports, Simpson and the other men entered the hotel room at gunpoint and ordered two collectors, Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, to hand over several items that Simpson claimed belonged to him.

Simpson maintains he was only trying to reclaim the sports memorabilia and that no weapons were used during the incident.

The collectibles taken from the room included football game balls signed by Simpson, Joe Montana lithographs, baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider and framed awards and plaques. The items have a collective valued of up to US$100,000.

The charges Simpson and at least three other men face include:

* Two counts of first-degree kidnapping
* Two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon
* Burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon
* Two counts of assault with a deadly weapon
* Conspiracy to commit kidnapping
* Conspiracy to commit robbery
* Conspiracy to commit a crime.

Simpson also faces a felony charge of coercion, alleging that he took a cellphone from Fromong. He is currently free on US$125,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court later this month.

Cashmore is scheduled to make a court appearance on Monday.

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In A Cave Or In The City, Where Is Osama Bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden could hide more easily in a city than a remote tribal region, a former Pakistani intelligence chief said on Tuesday, challenging the notion that the al Qaeda leader is probably holed up in a mountain cave.

Lieutenant-General Asad Durrani, former head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), said news of outsiders' presence travels fast in the tribal areas and it would be hard to keep it secret for years.

"In the countryside or in tribal areas ... it's difficult to hide yourself because there people live ... and operate in a manner in which finding out about unusual presence is very important," Durrani told Reuters in an interview in London.

He said it was true that tribal customs placed great value on showing hospitality and not betraying a guest. "In the tribal code, anyone who seeks your protection has to be defended, if necessary with your life."

However, he added: "I am not sure over a period of four, five or six years that it would be possible even for the tribesmen to keep his presence under wraps."

Such information would have traveled or been divulged, given the incentives, Durrani said in a reference to the $25 million US bounty on bin Laden's head.

"My conclusion therefore is it's extremely unlikely that he is around that place."

On the run

In the six years since the September 11 attacks on the United States and subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, Western intelligence officials have frequently said they suspect he is hiding somewhere in the inaccessible mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"This is a man on the run in a cave who is virtually impotent other than his ability to get these messages out," White House homeland security adviser Fran Townsend said last month when bin Laden issued his first new video for nearly three years.

Durrani said an urban centre could provide a better refuge.

"Why not a big city? Anywhere in Pakistan, Afghanistan. Anywhere outside the region where it is easier to keep cover," he said. "These are the places where you can hide yourself much better."

Other top al Qaeda figures associated with the September 11 attacks have been captured in Pakistani cities -- alleged plotter Ramzi Binalshibh in Karachi in September 2002 and self-confessed plan mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Rawalpindi in March 2003.

Pakistan has seen an upsurge in violence since July, when militants scrapped a peace deal with authorities in the tribal region of North Waziristan and army commandos stormed a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad. US intelligence officials fear al Qaeda is using the tribal areas as a safe haven in which to rebuild its strength.

Durrani said he was concerned that next week's expected court ruling on the whether President Pervez Musharraf is eligible for re-election and the return of exiled opposition leader Benazir Bhutto could provide a focus for further attacks.

"She (Bhutto) will have to take extraordinary security measures," he said.

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Wreckage Of Missing Plane Found In Central Washington

Ground searchers following the smell of fuel found the wreckage of a plane that crashed in the rugged central Washington Cascades, but neither the pilot nor nine skydivers aboard appeared to have survived.

Jim Hall, director of Yakima Valley Emergency Management, said all on board were believed dead, and that their families were notified.

Seven of the 10 on board "have been found deceased," Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said in a statement, which also said recovery efforts had been suspended for the night but would resume Tuesday.

The aircraft was found about 7:40 p.m. PDT and searchers were able to verify by serial number that it was the missing aircraft, said Yakima Valley Emergency Management spokeswoman Tina Wilson.

The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan left Star, Idaho, near Boise, Sunday evening en route to Shelton, Wash., northwest of Olympia.

The plane was returning from a skydiving meet in Idaho when it crashed.

One man at a Red Cross center at White Pass said his 30-year-old son was aboard the plane. He displayed a family photo of the young man skydiving with a brother and sister.

"He worked hard and he played hard — we just want to find him," said the father, who did not give his name.

When members of the Tacoma Mountain Rescue Team came upon the wreckage they found that the tail section was separated from the rest of the plane, Wilson said. It has not been located.

The names of those aboard have not been released.

Based on radar transmissions and a hunter's report of seeing a plane flying low Sunday evening and then hearing a crash, the search was focused on a steep, densely forested area near White Pass, about 45 miles west of Yakima.

The search was centered in a relatively small area of 5-10 square miles along the north fork of the Tieton River.

Elaine Harvey, co-owner of the skydiving company Skydive Snohomish, told The Seattle Times that nine of the 10 aboard were either employees of her business or else licensed skydivers who considered Snohomish their "home drop zone."

Skydive Snohomish operates a training school and offers skydiving flights at Harvey Field in Snohomish County, about 20 miles north of Seattle.

Skydive Snohomish had nothing to do with the flight to Idaho or the event held there, Harvey said.

"These people were beloved friends," she told the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Harvey did not return telephone messages from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.

The plane was registered to Kapowsin Air Sports of Shelton, south of Seattle near Olympia.

Geoff Farrington, Kapowsin's co-owner, said the family-owned company had never before lost a plane. He also said the plane had never experienced mechanical problems.

The single-engine plane was built in 1994, according to FAA records.

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O.J Simpson To Give Up Memorabilia And Rolex Watch

O.J. Simpson has been ordered to give up a Rolex watch valued at up to $US22,000 ($25,000) and sports memorabilia as partial settlement of a multimillion-dollar judgment for the wrongful deaths of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg ordered the former football star to turn over sports items that he is accused of having stolen in an armed robbery at a Las Vegas hotel in September.

Most of the items were taken from Simpson, 60, after he was charged with stealing his own sports memorabilia from collectors. They are in the custody of the Las Vegas police and include signed footballs and clothing.

In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, but a civil court jury found him responsible for their deaths and ordered him to pay their families $US33.5 million in damages.

"Mr Simpson is going to walk out of Las Vegas [broke]," David Cook, a lawyer for the Goldman family, told Reuters.

Cook said the Rolex watch, photographed on Simpson's wrist last month in Las Vegas, has a retail value of between $US5000 and $US22,000.

When or if Simpson comes into possession of the disputed items, they will be turned over for sale to the LA County Sheriff, Cook said. Proceeds would then go the Goldman family.

Tuesday's ruling marked the latest effort by the Goldman family efforts to collect on the civil judgment.

In July, the family acquired the rights to the controversial ghost-written book If I Did It - a hypothetical account of how Simpson might have carried out the killings. The book last week reached the No.2 spot on The New York Times list of non-fiction best sellers.

Also on Tuesday, the judge said Simpson must give the Goldman family any royalties he might earn from a video game that includes his likeness.

Representatives for Simpson, who is free on bail, were not immediately available for comment.

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