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Wednesday Feb. 27, 2002



U.S. envoy: Corruption, inadequate laws stymie development of rich Caspian region

Associated Press

The U.S. envoy to the strategic Caspian Sea region yesterday decried the corruption that has stymied investors trying to get its oil and gas riches to market - while his Iranian counterpart warned that foreign investors were too aggressive already.

Opinions clashed at a conference in Moscow on the 10-year-old legal dispute over how to divide the sea, highlighting differences in the political interests of Moscow, Tehran and the West.

Russia's top official in charge of Caspian issues, Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny, said it was time to end the dispute. He said plans were under way for an oft-delayed presidential summit on the Caspian, likely to be held in Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, in the fall.

Use of the Caspian resources, including fertile fishing grounds and what are believed to be the world's third-largest oil deposits, was defined by treaties between Iran and the Soviet Union.

After the 1991 Soviet collapse, the five countries around the Caspian - Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakstan and Azerbaijan - laid conflicting claims to the sea. They have been unable to reach a compromise.

U.S. and other foreign investors, meanwhile, have been jockeying for a chance to develop oil and gas fields despite the legal limbo.

"The Caspian region has not had the progress we expected," Ambassador Steven Mann, the U.S. envoy on Caspian energy issues, told the conference. He said corruption had hindered growth in the five states and a lack of legal guarantees had scared away investors.


Witness testifies that Andrea Yates was insane when 5 children were drowned

Associated Press

Andrea Yates suffered from schizophrenia and didn't know right from wrong when she drowned her five children in the bathtub in June, a psychologist testified yesterday at her capital murder trial.

"Mrs. Yates was severely ill and in the course of an acute psychotic episode," Dr. George Ringholz said in his second day on the witness stand. "She did not know the actions she took on that day were wrong."

Ringholz, a neuropsychologist from Baylor College of Medicine testifying for the defense, said his determination was based on research culled from her medical and family history and tests he conducted on the 37-year-old woman.

The testimony of Ringholz is key to the defense, which must convince jurors Yates was insane when she drowned her children one by one on June 20. Prosecutors argue Yates was sane at the time of the killings.

Yates is on trial for two counts of capital murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the deaths of 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John and 6-month-old Mary. Charges eventually could be filed in the deaths of Paul, 3, and Luke, 2.

On Monday, Ringholz said Yates's schizophrenia began during childhood and surfaced initially after giving birth to her first son, Noah, in 1994 when she considered grabbing a knife and stabbing the child.

Yates told him she felt Satan's presence shortly after Noah's birth and "heard Satan's voice tell her to pick up the knife and stab the child," Ringholz said.


Border Patrol apprehends 69 illegal immigrants

Associated Press

U.S. Border Patrol agents caught and deported 69 Mexican nationals over the weekend.

Agents stopped a vehicle that illegally crossed the border near Arivaca early Saturday.

Rob Daniels, a spokesman for the Border Patrol in Tucson, said 18 Mexican passengers took off on foot into the desert when the agents stopped the vehicle.

They were caught after a three-hour air and ground search.

In an unrelated incident, Daniels said agents caught another group of 18 that had crossed the border illegally near the San Miguel gate on the Tohono O'odham Nation Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, Douglas-area agents caught 33 Mexican nationals who said they had paid $1,000 each to be smuggled to New York.



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