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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday he was “deeply sorry” about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that did not reflect his personal opinion.

Despite the statement, protests and violence has persisted across the Muslim world, with churches set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric saying the pope was united with President Bush to “repeat the Crusades.”

An Italian nun also was gunned down in a Somali hospital where she worked, and the Vatican expressed concern that the attack was related to the outrage over the pope’s remarks.

Benedict sparked the controversy when, in a speech Tuesday to university professors during a pilgrimage to his native Germany, he cited the words of a Byzantine emperor.

“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the pope said. “He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’ ”

On Sunday, he stressed the words “were in fact a quotation from a medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought.

“At this time I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims,” the pope told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.


LOS ANGELES – Shoppers changed their buying habits Saturday as spinach was pulled from grocery store shelves because of the outbreak of E. coli bacteria that had killed one person and sickened more than 100 others.

Natural Selection Foods, LLC recalled its packaged spinach throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico as a precaution after federal health officials said some of those hospitalized reported eating brands of prepackaged spinach distributed by the company.

The officials stressed that the bacteria had not been isolated in products sold by the holding company, based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., and known for Earthbound Farm and other brands. As the investigation continues, other brands may be implicated, officials said.

About 74 percent of the fresh market spinach grown in the U.S. comes from California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. There have been previous bacterial contamination outbreaks linked to spinach and lettuce grown in the state.

Wisconsin accounted for nearly a third of the 102 reported illnesses, including the lone death, a 77-year-old woman who died of kidney failure.

The Food and Drug Administration advised consumers not to eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice. Some restaurants and retailers may be taking spinach out of bags before selling it, so consumers shouldn’t buy it at all, the FDA said.


WASHINGTON – Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb on Sunday sided with fellow war veterans Republican Sens. John Warner and John McCain and former secretary of State Colin Powell, on the terrorist interrogation issue that threatens to split the Republican Party.

His opponent, GOP Sen. George Allen, responded in a debate on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he has not decided whether to back President Bush’s plan for detaining, questioning and prosecuting suspected terrorists or one backed by Warner, the Armed Services Committee chairman and Virginia’s senior Senator.

In a pre-election showdown within a party struggling to retain its House and Senate majorities, Bush has pledged to block the Warner-McCain measure should Congress enact it.

Bush wants to allow withholding of classified evidence from defendants in terror trials and the use of coerced testimony. The Senate bill would also change the U.S. interpretation of its obligations under the Geneva Conventions-the international standard for treatment of war prisoners-so that harsh interrogations of detainees would not be questioned in court.

The Iraq issue consumed more than half of the first televised debate in the Virginia Senate race, a closely-watched contest that has become a midterm election referendum on the president’s handling of the war.

Allen and Webb meet again Monday for a luncheon debate before the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

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