USA

Republicans opened their national convention in New York, the day after the largest convention-related demonstration in US history. The unexpectedly peaceful march through Manhattan, organized by the group United for Peace and Justice, which opposes the war in Iraq, was estimated by police at more than 100,000 people - and at 400,00 by the sponsor. The convention, the first for the GOP in this Democratic stronghold, opened with polls showing President Bush and John Kerry, his Democratic challenger, in a virtual tie. Bush, who campaigned in West Virginia as the march took place, will lay out a second-term agenda during a Thursday night acceptance speech. Tuesday's featured speakers include first lady Laura Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, one of several party moderates whose appearances are designed to soften the party's conservative image.

A hearing to determine whether Pfc. Lynndie England should be court-martialed resumed at Fort Bragg, N.C., yesterday. England, who could be prosecuted for abusing Iraqi prisoners, is the woman shown in infamous photographs holding a naked detainee on a leash. The hearing recessed Aug. 8. Pvt. Jeremy Sivits, who is serving a year's sentence in the scandal, testified by telephone Monday that England was a willing participant in creating a "human pyramid" of naked Abu Ghraib prisoners. Meanwhile, the court-martial of Spc. Ryan Anderson, a Washington State National Guardsman and Muslim convert, was to begin Monday at Fort Lewis, near Seattle. Anderson is charged with trying to provide Al Qaeda with information about US troops. A videotape showing him speaking with undercover agents is a key piece of evidence.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the adjacent Diocese of Orange County are prepared to pay as much as $1.5 billion to settle the claims of sexual abuse by priests, an attorney for the claimants told Reuters Sunday. The amount, if paid, would be the largest to date for settling such incidents.

Allegations that a Pentagon analyst has funneled highly classified material about Iran to the main Israeli lobbying organization in Washington were denounced Sunday by the group's president. Bernice Manocherian said the allegations are "baseless" and "will not dissuade us from exercising our right as American citizens to be involved in the political process."

A team from Curaçao became the first from the Caribbean to win baseball's Little League World Series, defeating the US finalists from Thousand Oaks, Calif., 5-2, in Sunday's championship game in South Williams-port, Pa. Previous foreign champions have come from Taiwan, Venezuela, and Mexico. Carlos Pineda, Curaçao's pitcher, struck out seven batters during one stretch.

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