Scandal shakes Japan's Hatoyama

TOKYO - Two former aides to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama were charged yesterday with falsifying reports of campaign contributions - dashing the promise of the leader who has vowed to usher in a cleaner era in the nation's politics.

Hatoyama bowed deeply at a hastily called news conference, apologizing for the misdeeds of the aides, whom prosecutors accuse of listing dead people as donors to hide the source of some money. He refused to resign.

Hatoyama rose to power in August on the promise that he would end the corruption scandals that many had come to expect of the Liberal Democrats, who ruled the country for most of the last 50 years.

His popularity has begun to wane 100 days into his tenure amid a struggling economy.

- AP

Cleric condemns bill to kill gays

LONDON - A top, Uganda-born Anglican cleric spoke out yesterday against a proposed law in his native country that would impose the death penalty on some gays and life sentences on others.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu - who along with the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is one of the global fellowship's most senior priests - condemned the antigay legislation.

"I'm opposed to the death sentence. I'm also not happy when you describe people in the kind of language you find in this . . . bill," he told BBC radio.

The bill mandates death for sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape and life in prison for homosexual acts.

Conservative Uganda, 40 percent Anglican, has become a rallying point for western conservatives. Some U.S. Episcopal denominations switched allegiance to the Church of Uganda after the 2003 ordination of gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson. - AP

Chinese dissident gets 11-year term

BEIJING - A Chinese court sentenced a prominent dissident to 11 years today on subversion charges after he called for sweeping political reforms and an end to Communist Party dominance.

The sentencing of Liu Xiaobo came despite international appeals for his release, which China rejected as interference in its internal affairs.

Liu was the co-author of an appeal for political liberalization called Charter 08 and was detained last December. More than 300 people, including some top intellectuals, signed it. Only Liu was arrested. Others were fired from their jobs or warned.

"All I can tell you now is 11 years," his wife, Liu Xia, said. He could have been sentenced to as many as 15 years. Abolishing the vague law on "inciting to subvert state power" is among the reforms advocated in Charter 08. "We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes," it says. - AP

Elsewhere:

Iran confirmed yesterday that a daughter of Osama bin Laden has turned up at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, but said it does not know how Eman, 17, entered Iran and that she was free to leave. A Saudi newspaper reported Wednesday that Eman fled to the embassy after eight years of house arrest along with five siblings.