North Korea agreed to disable its main nuclear plant and disclose all its nuclear programs by the end of the year, a pledge it was supposed to uphold by last April. The latest promise came at the end of six-party talks in Beijing where U.S. negotiators apparently won (what had already been agreed to) by pledging U.S. assistance, fuel oil shipments, and lifting of trade and other sanctions that have limited Pyongyang's access to world markets. Later North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met with South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun and promised Oct. 4 to seek talks with China and the United States aimed at formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
Burma's military junta simply switched off the internet to prohibit images of protest and carnage from leaking following weeks of unrest. Dissidents say 200 have died and 6,000 have been detained in the crackdown.
A poll released last week showed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) taking her biggest lead of the year, 53-20 over Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), with former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards polling at 13 percent. According to the ABC/Washington Post poll, Clinton is up 13 points over last month-and for the first time crossed the 50 percent threshold in popular support.
What keeps second-tier candidates in a race some pundits have declared over? Democratic contender Sen. Joe Biden told WORLD it's this: He believes he can win.
President Bush on Oct. 3 vetoed a bill that would have expanded government health insurance for children, offering to increase the budget for an existing program by approximately $5 billion in a compromise with Congress, but voiding the $35 billion expansion that Congress passed.
Sen. Hillary Clinton pressed her plan for federally funded health care, calling it "a moral imperative" to provide health insurance for all.
Amish families in Nickel Mines, Pa., quietly marked the Oct. 2 anniversary of a vicious schoolhouse attack that killed five young girls one year ago. Many families remained at home, and classes were canceled at the new one-room schoolhouse. Four of the five wounded girls have returned to school. The fifth remains bound to a wheelchair and feeding tube.
The Amish community did not hold a public observance to commemorate the anniversary, but the families gathered a day earlier to sing hymns, pray, and share a meal. They invited state police troopers and neighbors to join them. They also invited officials from the Virginia Tech community, which endured its own massacre six months after the Nickel Mines tragedy.
"Thank God for giving me an opportunity as an attorney to experience and witness personally the harshness of electric torture," said Christian human-rights lawyer Li Heping after he was held and tortured for six hours Sept. 29.
Li reported that unknown assailants nabbed him as he left work, covered his head, and pushed him into a sedan. He was taken to a basement on the outskirts of Beijing.
"There, several people took turns to beat me brutally, slap my face, hit me on the head with water bottles, and kick me. The most unbearable form of their torture was hitting me with high-voltage electric batons." The torture continued for four or five hours, Li said. "I was so badly beaten that I rolled on the ground everywhere. Yet, they continued to chase and beat me with smiles on their faces."
Li said his kidnappers told him to quit his law practice and leave Beijing. Back at home Li discovered that materials for the case of a Christian activist he is defending were stolen, along with computer records, phone cards, and other materials. "It's hard for those who have not experienced this to believe it, but it happened in broad daylight in Beijing," he said in a statement following his release.
One small step for religious freedom: The federal Bureau of Prisons has reversed its order to remove from prison libraries all religious books and materials that are not on its approved list (see WORLD, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6). Its announcement read, "In response to concerns expressed by members of several religious communities, the Bureau of Prisons has decided to alter its planned course of action with respect to the Chapel Library Project. The bureau will begin immediately to return to chapel libraries materials that were removed in June 2007." The Bureau said it would not return materials that "incite violence."