Pakistan’s legislature unanimously condemned Pope Benedict XVI. Lebanon’s top Shiite cleric demanded an apology. And in Turkey, the ruling party likened the pontiff to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades.
Across the Islamic world Friday, Benedict’s remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that many fear could burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
By citing an obscure Medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam’s founder as “evil and inhumane,” Benedict inflamed Muslim passions and sparked fears of a new outbreak of anti-Western protests.
The last outpouring of Islamic anger at the West came in February over cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper. Some experts said the perceived provocation by the spiritual leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics could leave even deeper scars.
Ney will plead guilty in inquiry
Rep. Bob Ney agreed Friday to plead guilty to two criminal charges in the congressional corruption inquiry spawned by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Papers in the case said the Ohio Republican had accepted trips with others worth more than $170,000.
Justice Department officials said prosecutors would recommend the 52-year-old congressman serve 27 months in prison. A formal admission of guilt would make Ney the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in a Republican-heavy scandal that erupted at the dawn of the election year.
After months of stoutly denying wrongdoing, Ney signed a formal plea agreement that outlined charges of conspiracy and making false statements by not disclosing gifts he received from Abramoff on financial disclosure forms required by Congress.
His lawyer said Ney had begun treatment for alcohol dependency and would likely make a formal admission of guilt in court on Oct. 13.
Green Bay, Wis.
Shooting spree plot suspects had cache
Two 17-year-olds suspected of plotting a shooting spree at their high school were obsessed with the mass killings at Columbine High School and had homemade bombs and weapons at their homes, investigators said Friday.
The boys were arrested Thursday at East High School after a student went to an associate principal.
“If someone hadn’t come forward, we’d be talking about funerals instead of charges,” said Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski.
William C. Cornell and Shawn R. Sturtz were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree intentional homicide and conspiracy to commit arson.
Police found nine rifles and shotguns, a handgun, about 20 “crudely made” explosive devices, camouflage clothing, gas masks, two-way radios and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at Cornell’s house.