Carter's apology triggers debate

ATLANTA - Former President Jimmy Carter's apology to the Jewish community has sparked a debate among Jewish groups, as some reacted with skepticism while others sought to wait before gauging his effort to heal an often strained relationship.

"Is it correct to outright dismiss his apology? No, if he issues it, we have to look at it seriously," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "But the devil is in the details. And if there's a nuanced change about how he approaches Israel in the future, it's an important statement."

Carter issued an open letter this week apologizing for "any words or deeds" that may have stigmatized Israel.

Shalom International, a Miami-based group known for staging protests to fight anti-Semitism, called the apology a "publicity stunt" and invited Carter to attend one of several rallies planned for the next few months.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America called on Carter to take "concrete actions to redress troubling false statements" the group said he made about the war Israel waged in Gaza a year ago to subdue Hamas. - AP

Senate confirms 3 to key U.S. posts

WASHINGTON - The Senate yesterday confirmed a new U.S. foreign-aid chief, highway safety administrator, and deputy trade representative in one of its final actions before adjourning for the year.

Rajiv Shah, a former executive at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was confirmed as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and David Strickland, senior counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee, as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Miriam Sapiro, a former State Department and White House official, was confirmed to the trade post. She served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and was president of a consulting firm focusing on Internet policy.

- Bloomberg News

JonBenet's father asks help in probe

BOULDER, Colo. - The father of JonBenet Ramsey is making a public plea for help in finding her killer, 13 years after she was found strangled in the basement of her family's Colorado home.

John Ramsey said in a statement Wednesday that he was asking people to share any suspicions they had or recollections of people acting strangely around the time the 6-year-old girl was slain. JonBenet was found bludgeoned and strangled Dec. 26, 1996.

A former prosecutor said at the time that Ramsey and his wife, Patsy, were "under an umbrella" of suspicion, but authorities cleared them in 2007. Authorities said new DNA tests pointed to an unknown outsider. Patsy Ramsey died from cancer in 2006. - AP

Elsewhere:

The U.S. Coast Guard set up a security zone in the waters off President Obama's vacation home on Oahu. It said those entering the zone without permission may be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years. The Obama family is due to stay at an oceanfront rental home in Kailua through early January.