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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Israel, US envoy maps peace with Syria

The arrival in Jerusalem of a US diplomat with a longstanding interest in bringing about Israeli-Syrian peace is fueling speculation that the Obama administration is trying to relaunch negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus.

Frederic C. Hof, a conflict resolution expert and senior adviser to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, arrived in Israel Sunday. He will remain through Wednesday, and is meeting with a variety of Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak and senior military officers, before continuing to Damascus for talks.

Yediot Aharonoth, Israel's largest circulation newspaper, reports that Mr. Hof is in the process of presenting the draft of a plan for Israeli-Syrian peace that would find solutions to the two countries' dispute over the Golan Heights, a territory Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed. While Israeli officials have declined to comment on whether such a plan is being floated, Mr. Hof's vision was outlined in part in March when he published a report, "Mapping Peace Between Syria and Israel," with the United States Institute for Peace in Washington.

An American embassy official in Tel Aviv confirmed that Hof was here exploring peace concepts with various officials in the region.

The status of the Golan Heights is the main obstacle to Israeli-Syrian peace, which various efforts have failed to secure in recent years. In 2008, Israel and Syria conducted back-channel discussions facilitated by Turkey, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suspended the talks in protest over the January war in Gaza.

However, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who left office in late January, was optimistic that the talks would resume and eventually produce an accord.

"We started negotiations with Syria and... at the end of the day, we will be able to reach an agreement that will end the conflict between us and the Syrians," he said in a speech.

Hof envisions environmental preserve in Golan Heights

A key facet of the deal would involve shared water resources and the creation of a Jordan Valley-Golan Heights Environmental Preserve. While Israeli settlements would be dismantled, the plan envisions both Israelis and Syrians having free access to the territory for the purposes of tourism, among other things.

"In addition to mitigating Israeli concerns about the return of sensitive territories and providing a venue for informal people-to-people contacts, the Jordan Valley-Golan Heights Environmental Preserve approach would give the parties a good platform for practical bilateral cooperation even as the ink on a peace treaty is drying, allowing for a constructive, confidence-building start to the implementation phase of the withdrawal process," the report says,

Israelis dampen expectations

Israeli officials have tried to downplay expectations over Hof's visit, noting that a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not on the schedule. Officials in Mr. Netanyahu's office have indicated that the emphasis should continue to be placed on reaching a two-state with the Palestinians.

Uzi Arad, Netanyhau's national security adviser, said in a weekend interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israel would not consider any peace deal that would prevent it from staying "deep into the Golan Heights," a definition sure to be off-putting to Syrian negotiators.

"The Syrians are certainly aware that the Netanyahu government and the majority of the public will not leave the Golan Heights," Dr. Arad said in the interview.

There are more than two dozen Israeli settlements in the area, with 9,000 settlers living there.

Israeli spokesman: It's Syria that's stalling talks

A spokesman for Netanyahu says that Syria should not expect Israel to agree to preconditions – such as recognizing verbal agreements that are said to have been made by the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s. Israel, in return, would be ready to talk to Syria, despite its disinclination to do so, given support in Damascus for Hamas and Hizbullah.

"We are ready for negotiations with the Syrians without preconditions, but it's the Syrians who are putting all sorts of preconditions on the talks that prevent them from happening," says Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu. "They're actively supporting both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, not just political support but very tangible support. If we wanted to say no talks until that stops, we could."

The Obama administration decided in June to send an ambassador to Damascus, ending a four-year hiatus in diplomatic ties.

Fugitive US white supremacist captured in Israel

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A fugitive American white supremacist was arrested Monday in Israel, ending an international manhunt that began in 2007, Israeli and U.S. officials said.

Micky Louis Mayon, one of the 100 most wanted people in the United States, was taken into custody in southern Tel Aviv after Israel received information from Interpol indicating he was there.

The Ku Klux Klan member was located during a secret operation by Israeli immigration authorities, said Sabin Hadad, a spokeswoman for the country's Interior Ministry.

He arrived in Israel in January 2008 on a one-month tourist visa, frequently changed apartments, and earned money by working part time at several restaurants, the ministry said.

Mayon, 32, is being held at Israel's Maasiyahu prison and is in the process of being deported, Hadad said.

"The search for Mayon came to a successful conclusion ... with the actions in Israel," Michael Regan, a U.S. marshal in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said Monday. "Locating and identifying Mayon in a foreign country sends a strong message that you can run, but you cannot hide."

Two U.S. marshals are being sent to Israel to escort him back to the United States.

Mayon was featured on the television program "America's Most Wanted." He is a convicted felon and is accused of setting a judge's car on fire in Pennsylvania, the show's Web site said.

Palestinian officials criticize Israel of deflecting attention

JERUSALEM, July 14 (Xinhua) -- As the Israeli-Palestinian talks remain in deadlock, Palestinian officials criticized the Israeli government of using lip services and groundless comments to deflect attention away from Israel's refusal to implement its Road Map obligations.


Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Palestine's recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was key to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I am convinced that the root of the solution is in the refusal to recognize the Jewish state," Netanyahu told a state ceremony to mark the 105th anniversary of the death of the odor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism.

"Therefore, the key to peace is the explicit recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish state," he added.

He also said that Palestinians "must finally abandon the demand" to resettle families of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Israel, which he said could undermine the country's existence.

In his speech in June, the Israeli prime minister talked of the support of establishment of a Palestinian state for the first time, but putting recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, demilitarization of the future Palestine state as the conditions for the establishment.

Palestinian Parliament (PLC) member Ziad Abu Amr told Xinhua that Netanyahu's recent use of the term two-state solution did not mean a change in direction for his administration's policy on the matter.

"Netanyahu's statement regarding his acceptance of a two-state solution was made under pressure in a reluctant way," Abu Amr said, adding that the conditions he added to the establishment of a Palestinian state following the statement showed he was not willing to meet the Palestinian requirements.

"These things need to be negotiated and not stated as a precondition," he said.

Some analysts said Netanyahu's linkage of the two-state solution to certain stipulations was a strategic move to draw nearer to U.S. President Barack Obama's standpoint.

"I think Netanyahu is trying to appease the Obama administration," Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian affairs analyst, told Xinhua. "A Palestinian state but under conditions, will not be acceptable to Palestinian leaders," he said.


However, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Palestinian side was also to blame for the long-stalled peace talks.

As Abbas' authority or legitimacy "deteriorates or declines, he raises his demands and toughens his position," Lieberman told Israel Radio on Monday.

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that he made the comments in response to a recent pledge by Abbas restating the PLO's expectations of a complete return to pre-1967 borders, the right of return of Palestinians to Israel proper, and Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and in addition demanded a complete freeze of construction in the Jewish communities strewn around the West Bank.

Toameh said that the Palestinians, like Netanyahu, were looking to buy time.

"I think they know that nothing is going to come out of these talks and they see the clash between Netanyahu and Obama," he said, adding that the Palestinians secretly hoped their position might increase pressure by the Obama administration on Israel.

Such remarks were immediately rebutted by the Palestinians.

"By criticizing the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, Israel's foreign minister is hoping to deflect attention away from Israel's refusal to implement its obligations under the Road Map, including a comprehensive settlement freeze," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said, according to a statement sent to Xinhua.

"I doubt such diversion tactics will wash with the international community, and certainly do not deserve much attention from those of us who are committed to peace," he said, adding that "Palestinians stand ready to negotiate with an Israeli government committed to the two-state solution and to honoring existing agreements between Israel and the PLO."

Erakat insisted all that the Palestinian requires are written in the previous agreements reached between the two sides.

"Israel's refusal to implement its obligations under existing agreements has undermined the very credibility of the peace process. For negotiations to be credible, Israel must implement those obligations it has already agreed to, such as a comprehensive settlement freeze, including so-called "natural growth," lifting restrictions on Palestinian movement and access and ending the siege on Gaza," said Erakat.


In fact, some new suggestions emerged from the Palestinian officials.

"Jews would enjoy freedom and civil rights in a future Palestinian state," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute which was also attended by former director of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) James Woolsey.

"Jews, to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine, will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel," Fayyad was quoted by Aspen Daily News as saying.

Gershon Baskin, Israeli chief executive and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), however, said he believed that though Fayyad represented a minority position, his statement was of great significance, as it could have an influence on Palestinian society itself.

"Fayyad was voicing a very positive position," Baskin told Xinhua.

Fast for Gaza--it's time to go viral for peace in the Middle East

"What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza”, said Rabbi Brant Rosen of Evanston, IL. Joining forces with Rosen is Rabbi Brian Walt of West Tisburry, MA. The two are calling together other rabbis, Jews, non-Jewish religious leaders and people of conscience to join Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast For Gaza.

As prologue to this call to action, these courageous rabbis write, “Since Hamas electoral victory in January 2006, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to an increasingly intolerable blockade that restricts Gaza's ability to import food, fuel and other essential materials, and to export finished products. As a result, the Gazan economy has completely collapsed. Most of Gaza's industrial plants have been forced to close, further contributing to already high levels of unemployment and poverty and rising levels of childhood malnutrition…
…(but) we cannot separate our call for justice in Gaza from the painful truth of this conflict and the ongoing tragedy of war in this tortured region. We condemn Hamas’ deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians. Out of the same ethical commitments we also condemn the use of much greater violence by the Israeli government, causing many more deaths of Palestinian civilians. Since the end of Israel's recent military campaign, the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza has grown all the more dire.”
I have signed on to the Fast For Gaza and I hope you will too.
Fasting is a spiritual practice found in nearly all of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. As a Protestant Christian I had never felt sufficiently motivated to fast until the Ramadan that followed upon 9/11. I have since taken up the fast as a spiritual practice several times. Whenever I have fasted I realize that when my basic need for food is not met, my impulse is to rationalize why I should stop fasting.
Early on in the fast my personal discomfort looms large. But over time I realize that the purpose of my personal discomfort is to call me to a greater comfort. There is something miraculous and mysterious about letting go of me and connecting to the larger longing of we.
Anyone who has ever fasted knows what I am talking about.
Taking the pledge to Fast for Gaza means to make the commitment to drink only water from sunrise to sunset on the third Thursday of every month, the first being Thursday, July 16.
Whenever I have fasted I feel pretty virtuous until about two o’clock in the afternoon. Then there is a twinge in the stomach. Clearly, this is less a challenge in the winter months!
But the practice of fasting has taught me that discomfort is not my enemy. It is a part of life. Feeling uncomfortable I feel the impulse to fight it or flee. But if I stay with it, stay with what's going on for me--I am able to eventually climb out of the prison of the self.
I fully anticipate that when I begin The Fast for Gaza and feel the pangs of discomfort I will at least remember those in Gaza who are living with a suffering that I cannot possibly comprehend.
I have talked to a lot of people who seek spirituality because they think that spirituality will bring them the satisfaction they haven’t been getting. Many people assume that the purpose of spirituality is to make us generally feel good, to give us warm fuzzies—to remove the uncomfortable aspects and difficulties of our lives.
But deeply spiritual commitments have a way of doing exactly the opposite.
Whenever people say to me, “I want to develop the spiritual aspect of my life”, I always respond the same way, I ask “What in life is not spiritual? What in your life can you think of, that is not connected to something or someone else?”
Spirituality is the process of waking up to see that everything is interdependent and interrelated.
All of life is sacred. The divine presence permeates every molecule in every moment. God is the ground of being from which every being draws life and breath. Every life form derives its energy from the one Source.
In this spirit, I invite you to join me in the Fast For Gaza. If for some reason you are unable to fast but want to add your name to the fast you can skip a meal, if that's not possible, light some candles or create a ritual that will mark each third Thursday. There is no excuse to do nothing.
Make a difference. Help get the word out. Share the Fast For Gaza website with family, friends and email lists.

PNA, World Bank sign Gaza rebuilding deals

RAMALLAH, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a series of agreements mostly dedicated to rebuilding the Gaza Strip.

In total, the mutual cooperation and financial aid agreements worth 33.5 million U.S. dollars, 21.5 million of them will fund six projects aimed at rebuilding Gaza where Israel completed a military offensive in January.

The projects target emergency services in Gaza, such as upgrading the electricity network, developing water and sewage treatment stations, enhancing municipal services and funding the Gaza-based non-profit organization.

Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Premier who signed the deals in Ramallah, said the international community must meet its commitments to finance the PNA. The pledges were made during a meeting for the international donors in Egypt following the Gaza fighting.

"These commitments will enable the PNA to immediately carry out Gaza reconstruction program, especially in the fields of housing, agriculture and economy," Fayyad said.

He also urged Israel to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip to allow the entry of building materials.

During the three-week military operation, 2,700 houses in Gaza were completely destroyed and 3,700 sustained various types of damage, according to the UN figures.

British MP Galloway heads to Gaza for further visit

A convoy led by British MP George Galloway was due to arrive at the Rafah border crossing to the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon, a pro-Hamas committee in the coastal territory said.

Hamdi Shaath, a spokesman for the Palestinian governmental committee against the Israeli blockade of Gaza, said that the "Artery of Life" convoy passed through the Egyptian city of Ismailiya Monday on its way to the Rafah border crossing.

"In addition to Galloway, the humanitarian convoy will include 225 activists, including a former U.S. Congresswoman, four Jewish anti-Zionist Rabbis and a retired general in the U.S. Army who served in Iraq," said Shaath.
He expressed hope that "Egypt would facilitate the movement and the crossing of the solidarity convoy into the Gaza Strip," adding that "the convoy carries humanitarian aids to the besieged Gazans."

Galloway led the first "Artery of Life" convoy into Gaza immediately after the Israel Defense Forces ended its 22-day offensive there on January 18.

He brought with him dozens of cars, caravans, trucks and ambulances loaded with humanitarian and medical aid. Galloway held talks with Hamas leaders and donated 25,000 pounds ($40,000) to the Hamas government.

Israel has imposed a tight blockade on Gaza for more than two years, responding to rocket attacks on its southern towns and villages. It says that lifting the blockade is conditional on both the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive in the strip since June 2006, and a long-term truce with Hamas and other Gaza militant groups.

Report: Hamas says Israel sending aphrodisiac gum to 'corrupt' Gaza youth

Hamas accused Israel of distributing chewing gum which boosts sex drive in order to "corrupt the young generation," according to an official quoted in an AFP report on Tuesday.

Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan said, "We have discovered two types of stimulants that were introduced into the Gaza Strip from Israeli border crossings… The first type is presented in the form of chewing gum and the second in the form of drops."

The official said that suspects were detained who admitted to helping bring the products into the Strip, and that they were "linked to the Zionist intelligence services."

There was no official comment from the IDF on the accusations, though a military source was quoted by AFP as calling them "absurd."

2 more arrested in Florida couple's slaying; total of 6 in custody

Police: Seven in custody in Florida couple's slaying

PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) -- Seven people are in custody in connection with the shooting deaths of a Gulf Coast couple known for adopting special-needs children, Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff David Morgan said Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Okaloosa County sheriff's spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said the department had arrested two people in Okaloosa County. Both suspects face murder charges and were booked early Tuesday morning, she said.

Nicholson would not confirm their names, but the county's corrections Web site identifies one as Frederick Lee Thorton Jr.

A total of six arrests have been made in last week's deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

Three people were in custody in connection with the Billingses' deaths Monday afternoon, and Morgan told reporters a total of six to eight people are thought to be involved in the crime.

Gary Lamont Sumner, 30, was arrested Monday night. Morgan said Sumner was pulled over in an Okaloosa County traffic stop on Sunday and arrested after authorities discovered he matched a description of a person sought in Escambia County. He faces a murder charge, Morgan said.

Wayne Coldiron, 41; Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 35; and Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr., 56, were arrested over the weekend. Authorities said Coldiron and the younger Gonzalez face charges of murder, robbery and residential home invasion. The elder Gonzalez faces charges of evidence tampering for allegedly trying to disguise a vehicle spotted at the home.

Police have called the slayings "a very well-planned and methodical operation."

Authorities have released two surveillance tapes taken from the front and rear of the Billingses' home. Each shows a vehicle pulling up to the property and five people dressed in black and wearing masks entering the home through two entrances, including a utility door left unlocked, something Morgan said is not uncommon in the community. Authorities believe drivers remained in both of the cars.

Investigators believe one motive in the deaths was robbery, but, "we believe there are other motives," Morgan said. He would not say what, if anything, was taken from the home.

Melanie Billings' biological daughter, Ashley Markham, told reporters the couple initially had 17 children. Byrd and Melanie Billings each had two biological children; the rest were adopted. Three have died over the years, she said. The couple had no biological children together.

Morgan, however, said the couple had a total of 16 children, with two who have died and others who have grown older and no longer live in the home.

Nine of the couple's children were home during the incident, Morgan said, and police believe three of them saw the intruders. One managed to flee the home and seek help at a neighbor's house, the sheriff said.

Coldiron and the younger Gonzalez were being held on $1 million bond, according to records posted on the sheriff's Web site. The senior Gonzalez was being held on $250,000 bond. One of those three is believed to be the mastermind behind the crime, Morgan said, but would not say which one.

Although the Billingses were well known in the community, the sheriff said authorities are still trying to unravel why they were targeted. Both of the Billingses were shot multiple times, he said, but he would not release further details on their deaths.

Markham said earlier the family does not know any of the first three suspects. She said the children "are coping very well" and are being cared for.

"They haven't asked too many questions," she said, noting that several have disabilities. While the investigation continues, the family is keeping the children's whereabouts a secret.

The Billingses lived in Beulah, west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line.

Obama Says Jobless Rate Likely to Tick Up for Several Months

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that the U.S. jobless rate, already at its highest level in more than a quarter century, is likely to worsen for several months.

"My expectation is that we will probably continue to see unemployment tick up for several months," Mr. Obama told reporters after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Unemployment stood at 9.5% nationwide last month, a rate that has prompted calls for additional stimulus measures, as well as criticism that the earlier $787 billion package has so far failed to create jobs. Mr. Obama, who has said he believes joblessness will soon hit 10%, will visit Michigan later Tuesday, a state already dealing with double-digit unemployment.

While he said he doesn't have a "crystal ball," Mr. Obama said he anticipates unemployment will follow historical trends and lag "for some time" even after an economic recovery begins.

On the positive side, he said the U.S. has "seen some stabilization in the financial markets, and that's good because that means companies can borrow and banks are starting to lend again."

"The challenge for this administration is to make sure that even as we are stabilizing the financial system, we understand that the most important thing in the economy is people able to find good jobs that pay good wages," Mr. Obama said.

The president met with Mr. Balkenende, a close ally and partner in Afghanistan, shortly before leaving Washington for Warren, Mich., where he plans to unveil a big proposed government investment in the community-college system.

Messrs. Obama and Balkenende said they discussed a host of issues, including Afghanistan, climate change and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Mr. Obama invited Mr. Balkenende to attend September's Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh. The Netherlands isn't a member of the G20, but Mr. Obama said the group could benefit from Mr. Balkenende's experience and expertise working with world leaders.

"Overall, we think this partnership is strong and will continue to grow," Mr. Obama said.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama will throw out the first pitch at the Major League All-Star Game in St. Louis. Asked if he's been practicing, he acknowledged that he wanted to loosen his arm up a little bit.

Mr. Obama hasn't visited the mound at a professional ballpark since last year's American League Championship Series.

"I just wanted to keep it high," Mr. Obama said of his strategy last year. "There was no clock on it, I don't know how fast it went, but if it exceeded 30 miles per hour I'd be surprised. But it did clear the plate."

Sotomayor seeks to explain her wise Latina' comment

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor tried Tuesday to defuse controversy over her remarks about the superior judgment of a "wise Latina," saying that her comments were a "rhetorical flourish" and that at no time "have I ever permitted my personal views or sympathies to influence an outcome of a case."

Tuesday was the first day that the 55-year-old federal appellate judge, who's bidding to become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court, faced questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What little controversy remains often centers on her 2001 remarks about the advantages of being a Latino woman. Republicans quizzed her hard on the comment and others that suggest she uses her life experiences to guide her judicial work.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the committee's top Republican, also questioned Sotomayor's judicial temperament, saying that she has made several statements over the years that call her impartiality into question.

Sotomayor calmly, repeatedly assured the committee that she has always striven to be fair, and said her "wise Latina" comment was "bad because it left an impression that I believe that life experiences commanded a result in a case. But that's clearly not what I do as a judge."

She added, "My record shows that at no point or time have I ever permitted my personal views or sympathies to influence an outcome of a case."

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., had gotten Sotomayor to defend herself quickly from the "wise Latina" remark.

"You've heard all these charges and countercharges ... here's your chance. You tell us what's going on here, judge," Leahy said.

"No words I have ever spoken nor written have received so much attention," Sotomayor said, chuckling. "I was trying to inspire them to believe their life experiences would enrich the legal system, because different life experiences and backgrounds always do. I don't think there is a quarrel with that in our society."

She said she also was trying to inspire minorities to be anything they wanted.

The context of the words, however, Sotomayor acknowledged, "created a misunderstanding, and to give everyone assurances I want to state up front, without doubt, I do not believe any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment."

"I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge regardless of their background or life experience," she said.

Leahy, the first senator to ask questions, also tried to ease other controversies. What qualities, he asked, does a judge have, and how does that shape your approach to your work?

Sotomayor cited the comments of other senators, who said that a judge had to show respect for the Constitution and "an understanding that respect is guided by ... a full appreciation of the limited jurisdiction of the court in our system of government, but understanding its importance as well. That is the central part of judging."

Leahy dived right into what's likely to be the biggest controversy of the hearing: Sotomayor's ruling, along with two other judges, that the New Haven, Conn., fire department didn't deny firefighter Frank Ricci a promotion unfairly. The Supreme Court reversed that decision by a 5-4 vote last month.

The case was decided "on the basis of a very thorough 78-page decision by the district court and on the basis of established precedent," she said.

"The issue in Ricci was what the city did or could do when it was presented with a challenge to one of its tests for promotion," Sotomayor explained. "This was not a quota case. This was not an affirmative action case. This was a challenge to a test that everybody agreed had a very wide difference in the pass rate of a variety of different groups."

She also addressed any notion that she isn't tough on crime, recalling her days in the New York City prosecutor's office and how she learned that "each case gets decided case by case."

The Tarzan murder case, she said - named after a man who used acrobatic feats as he committed his crimes - was an early test for her. As a young prosecutor, she helped convict murderer Richard Maddicks. She said she learned about the human consequences of crime and the law.

"That family was destroyed," she said of the victim's family. "They scattered to the four winds, and only one brother remained in New York who could testify. That case taught me that prosecutors - as all participants in the justice system - must be sensitive to the price crime imposes on our entire society."