Kennedy still at the helm

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. - Sen. Edward Kennedy took the helm of his sailboat "Mya" yesterday and rode a stiff southern wind from Nantucket back to Hyannis in a regatta just a week after undergoing a brain biopsy that diagnosed him with cancer.

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The Massachusetts Democrat made partially good on a pledge from the prior week by competing in the second half of the "Figawi" boat race between the island and Cape Cod. He missed Saturday's outbound leg but got up early on Memorial Day and took a ferry across Nantucket Sound to compete in the return leg.

Also aboard for the more than two-hour journey were his wife, Vicki, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and relatives including sons Patrick and Edward Jr. and stepdaughter Caroline Raclin.

"It couldn't be a more wonderful day," Kennedy told several dozen well-wishers and a handful of reporters who greeted him dockside just down the street from his family's vacation compound.

5 dead in San Clemente

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. - Authorities said yesterday they found two handguns with the decomposed bodies of five family members discovered in a home overlooking the ocean in a wealthy, gated Orange County community.

It was unclear how the family died and neither homicide nor suicide could immediately be ruled out, said sheriff's Lt. Erin Giudice. She said there was no threat to the community and deputies were not searching for any suspects.

The handguns were found near the bodies of a man and woman in their 40s who were discovered together Sunday in a downstairs closet, Giudice said. The bodies of a woman in her 70s and two sisters in their early 20s were found in the attached bedroom, she said.

The guns were registered to the woman found in the closet, Giudice said.

The man appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound, but it was impossible to tell if the others had been shot as well because of the advanced decomposition of the bodies, she said. Authorities believed the bodies had been in the house for two to three weeks.

Gaza border to stay shut

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told lawmakers yesterday that Israel would not agree to open a key Gaza border crossing, explicitly rejecting a chief condition that the Hamas militant group has set for a cease-fire with Israel.

Egypt has been trying for months to mediate a deal to halt a conflict in which Gaza extremists fire rockets and mortars at southern Israel and the Israeli military retaliates with air and ground strikes. But each side has set tough conditions.

Israel wants progress in negotiations to return an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas-allied militants nearly two years ago. Hamas wants Israel to immediately open border crossings that were closed to all but humanitarian aid after the Islamic group seized control of Gaza a year ago.

Yesterday, Olmert told parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border - Gaza's main gateway to the outside world - would stay closed.

The panel's proceedings are routinely leaked, and Olmert likely used the platform to make his position clear to Hamas.

Tough welcome for new prez

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon's new president got a red carpet welcome yesterday, but was quickly thrust into the political thicket as Hezbollah's leader warned against any efforts to disarm his Iranian-backed guerrilla group.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah delivered his stern message after military bands and an honor guard saluted President Michel Suleiman on his first day on the job.

Suleiman, the former army commander, was a consensus candidate agreed on by both Hezbollah and its pro-Western political foes, but he drew pointed comments from Nasrallah after saying in his inauguration speech Sunday that there should be a dialogue over Hezbollah's arsenal.

The Shiite militant group has rejected demands it disarm, insisting its weapons are needed to protect Lebanon from Israel.

Nasrallah's speech was his first since Hezbollah fighters seized several areas of Muslim west Beirut in several days of fighting this month, forcing the Western-backed Cabinet to agree to a political deal designed to give Hezbollah and its allies a veto over government policies.

YouTube is under fire

NEW YORK - A $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit over YouTube's ability to keep copyrighted material off its popular video-sharing site threatens how hundreds of millions of people exchange all kinds of information on the Internet, owner Google Inc. said.

The company's lawyers made the claim in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan as Google responded to Viacom Inc.'s latest lawsuit alleging that the Internet has led to "an explosion of copyright infringement" by YouTube and others.

The back-and-forth between the companies has intensified since Viacom brought its lawsuit last year, saying it was owed damages for the unauthorized viewing of its programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, including such hits as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

In papers submitted to a judge late Friday, Google said YouTube "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works."

It said that by seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom "threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression." *

-Associated Press