Chief Justice Rehnquist Has
Surgery for Thyroid Cancer
The chief justice of the United States, William H. Rehnquist, underwent cancer-related surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital but plans to return to the bench for oral arguments when the Supreme Court reconvenes Monday, the court announced.
In a brief statement, the court said doctors performed a tracheotomy on Rehnquist on Oct. 23 "in connection with a recent diagnosis of thyroid cancer."
The news that the chief justice has a potentially life-threatening condition suddenly threw into doubt the stability of a court whose membership last changed in 1994.
There are various types of thyroid cancer. Some are much more easily treated than others, but all are more difficult to treat in older patients, medical experts said.
The thyroid is a gland near the base of the throat that helps regulate body temperature and metabolism, as well as maintain normal functioning of the heart and brain. Tumors in the thyroid can sometimes invade the windpipe, or trachea. Generally, doctors use a tracheotomy -- making a small hole in the neck to permit air to enter the windpipe directly from the outside -- in cases in which, for any reason, a patient has no other way to get air.
Rehnquist, 80, leads a five-member majority of Republican-appointed justices who regularly steer the law in a conservative direction.
-- Charles Lane
Israeli Parliament Approves Gaza Settlement Closures
Israel's parliament voted to close all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, evacuate their 8,100 residents and withdraw thousands of Israeli troops that protect them, handing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a major political victory on an issue that has created a deep rupture in Israeli politics and society.
Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan was approved by a 67 to 45 vote in the 120-member parliament, or Knesset, even though almost half the members of his own Likud Party and most of his traditional allies in ultranationalist and religious parties abandoned him. At the same time, Sharon was supported by longtime opponents in more dovish parties who historically have viewed him as their archenemy.
Immediately after the vote, however, four cabinet ministers from Likud, including Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that they would resign from the government within two weeks if Sharon did not agree to subject his plan to a nationwide referendum. Sharon said later he would not hold a referendum.
The vote moved Israel a step closer to what would be its first withdrawal from Jewish settlements since 1982, when settlers were pulled out of the Sinai Peninsula under the Camp David peace accords with Egypt.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who has been ill for more than two weeks, flew to Paris on Friday for treatment at a French military hospital. Arafat left his shell-battered compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah for the first time in more than two years after receiving assurances from Sharon that he would be allowed to return after undergoing treatment.
Arafat, 75, has suffered for months from an apparent stomach disorder and other ailments. His symptoms appeared to have worsened in recent weeks.
-- John Ward Anderson
and Glenn Frankel
$70 Billion Is Eyed
For Iraq, Afghanistan
The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said.
White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton emphasized that final decision on the supplemental spending request will not be made until shortly before the request is sent to Congress. That may not happen until early February, when, if reelected, President Bush would submit his budget for fiscal 2006.
But Pentagon and House Appropriations Committee aides said the Defense Department and the military services are scrambling to get their final requests to the White House's Office of Management and Budget by mid-November, shortly after the election. The new number underscores that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and will last longer, than the administration suggested at first.
The new request will come on top of $25 billion in war spending allocated by Congress for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.
-- Jonathan Weisman
and Thomas E. Ricks
Judge Rules Anthrax Vaccine
Cannot Be Forced on Troops
The Defense Department must immediately stop inoculating troops with anthrax vaccine, a federal judge ruled, saying that the Food and Drug Administration acted improperly when it approved the experimental injections for general use.
Concluding that the FDA violated its own rules by approving the vaccine late last year, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the mandatory vaccination program -- which has inoculated more than 1.2 million troops since 1998 -- is "illegal."
Sullivan said that his ban on involuntary vaccination will remain in place until the FDA reviews the anthrax vaccine properly or until President Bush determines that the normal process must be waived because of emergency circumstances.
The Defense Department has required many troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to be vaccinated, and it has punished and sometimes court-martialed those who refused. The Pentagon expanded its anthrax and smallpox vaccination programs in July to include troops stationed in South Korea and other areas in Asia and Africa, despite complaints from some service members that the anthrax vaccine made them sick.
In a statement, the Defense Department said it is reviewing the decision and will "pause giving anthrax vaccinations until the legal situation is clarified. . . . DoD remains convinced that the anthrax immunization program complies with all the legal requirements and that the anthrax vaccine is safe and effective."
-- Marc Kaufman
Vatican Issues Guide
To Teachings on Social Issues
The Vatican issued an exhaustive guide to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on social issues, reiterating positions against abortion, same-sex marriage and preventive war waged without compelling proof of a threat. Church officials said its release a week before the U.S. election was not intended to influence the vote.
In one passage addressing behavior in politics, the guide says that "a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political programme or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals."
Asked whether American Catholics could vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, Cardinal Renato Martino deferred to Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who said the Holy See "never gets involved in electoral or political questions directly."
In recent months, a debate has unfolded at high levels of the church over candidates who advocate policies contrary to church doctrine. Without naming Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, some U.S. bishops have said that any Catholic who knowingly voted for a politician who supports abortion rights would be "cooperating in evil."
At the same time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's chief arbiter of theological orthodoxy, sent a memo to Washington's Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick that appears to give Catholics leeway in certain circumstances to vote for candidates who favor abortion rights, if there are "proportionate" reasons to do so.
-- Sarah Delaney