Saturday, July 02, 2005

Ross Perot fined for speeding in his boat

Bill's Pre-comment: Source of this article courtesy of the DRUDGE REPORT.

Ross Perot fined for speeding in his boat

By Coggie Gibbons
(News from 2005-07-01 Edition)

American billionaire and sometime Bermuda resident Ross Perot was fined in Magistrates’ Court this week for two marine offences.

Former U.S. presidential candidate Mr. Perot, 75, of Tucker’s Town, pleaded guilty to operating a power craft without reasonable consideration on July 24 last year in western waters and speeding in a restricted area where the limit was five knots.
Inspector Philip Taylor, prosecuting, told the court that a member of the public in a boat in waters off Watford Island, Somerset saw Mr. Perot’s 38-foot boat, ‘Rough Rider’ bearing down at about 30 knots (56 kph) within 100 metres of the shoreline.
The boat was planing, Insp. Taylor told magistrate, the Wor. Kamisi Tokunbo and creating a large wake, rocking the complainant’s boat.

Later that afternoon, the complainant saw Mr. Perot’s boat returning through the area at a high speed before slowing down.

By then ‘Rough Rider’ had formed another large wake, rocking the complainant’s and other boats in the area. Marine police later located Mr. Perot aboard another of his boats in Castle Harbour. He reportedly admitted speeding and said: “I understand” when they charged him.

Insp. Taylor said Mr. Perot has no convictions “in this jurisdiction”.
In court, dressed in green jacket and a white golf shirt, unrepresented Mr. Perot stood erect and expressionless as he addressed Mr. Tokunbo in his firm Texan drawl: “I apologise for the inconvenience I’ve caused the court in taking your time and to the marine police for taking their time.”

Mr. Tokunbo fined the U.S. Naval Academy graduate $200 on the first count and $100 on the second.

Escorted by a police officer in plain clothes, Mr. Perot wasted no time in striding purposefully from the courthouse and getting into the passenger’s seat of a white private car parked in the driveway of the Supreme Court grounds behind Magistrates’ Court, his chauffeur waiting for him.

As the car drove onto Parliament Street, Mr. Perot turned his head away from a press camera as the officer tried to block the reporter’s shot of him.

The Thrill of Traveling Solo

The Thrill of Traveling Solo

Brought to you by Emily Giffin and!

When I was about twenty-two years old and in my first year of law school, I remember reading a wedding story in the newspaper about a couple who got engaged in Paris. It was the bride's first trip to the City of Lights. She said that she had been saving it, waiting to see it with the man of her dreams. Her husband-to-be, of course, knew this about her and so he chose Paris as the perfect place for his proposal.

It was the kind of story that makes single women swoon and dream and wish. For an engagement that satisfying, a husband that thoughtful. I remember reading that story and thinking that the bride's plan was a good one. I hadn't yet been to Paris, and so I, too, would save it for the man of my dreams.

Being one to stick to a plan whenever possible, that is what I did. I had many meaningful life experiences throughout the rest of my twenties. I moved to Manhattan, began my legal career, forged incredible friendships, met some memorable (and many other forgettable) men. But despite several opportunities to do so, I did not go to Paris for another eight years. Not until I met my now husband. He didn't propose on that trip, but we did visit the most romantic city in the world during that first flush of love for one another. We sipped champagne in our Left Bank hotel, wandered along Parisian streets, sailed down the Seine, arm in arm. Now we are married with twin one-year-old sons, and every time I look at our photos or read our travel journal, I remember those five days in France with such sweet sentimentality.

Still, there is a part of me that wonders--and will never know--what Paris would have been like as an unattached woman. I read about that Paris sometimes--the Paris that is about being youthful, free, and adventurous in a way you can only be when you're single and the possibilities are endless. I will never know what it is like, for example, to stroll through the city, alone with my guidebook, settle onto a barstool in a cafe, catch the eye of a tall, dark, Frenchman...

There is part of me that regrets holding back on Paris in much the same way I would have regretted limiting myself in any aspect of life simply because I hadn't yet found the right guy. For me it was Paris. (How wistful I get when I watch films like Out of Africa or read books like Under the Tuscan Sun and realize that I won't ever travel fully alone again.) For others, it might be waiting to have sex, waiting to buy a house, waiting to get a golden retriever. Whatever the case, I believe that it is a mistake for anyone to wait for a partner while limiting her life experience in any way. Because even if you later have that experience, it's not the same experience when you do it married. And the more you experience by yourself, the more you will bring to a marriage and the fewer regrets you will have. Being single is no better or worse than the married version of life, but it should be savored and fully lived just as any other stage of life. After all, once you're married, you will be married forever, if all goes well. And just as you can't return to childhood or college, you can't recapture your single days once you've passed them by.

So make your single memories count. Don't save Paris. Don't save your best pair of shoes. Don't save anything. Travel, party, live, and laugh as if it were the very last chapter in your single life. It just might be.

Emily Giffin is the author of Something Borrowed and Something Blue, out this June. For more information, check out

Celebrate Your Independence

Celebrate Your Independence

Brought to you by Laura Gilbert and!

1. You get to go wherever you want and do whatever you want on vacation. If you hate cold weather, you don't have to risk losing toes to frostbite just because your sweetie is a ski buff. And once you get wherever you're going, if you decide to stay in the hotel room all weekend with room service and an on-site masseuse while ignoring the historic blah blah blahs? No problem... Nobody's gonna know!

2. You get to sing out loud--badly, without embarrassment--to your music whenever you're home.

3. The remote control is all yours, all the time. And you don't have to worry about anyone else making fun of you because it's switched to Lifetime or hours of NASCAR coverage.

4. You can comfortably put up that Star Wars poster you've had since you were a kid or paint the bathroom walls petal-pink--after all, decorating isn't a team sport.

5. Your friends all instinctively make you their "... and guest" when they go to an event. You get prime invites to concerts (especially popular during the summer), weddings (ditto) and other ticketed events every time someone's significant other has to bail.

6. You get to indulge all of your interests, no matter how bizarre, without negotiating. That means you can hole up with piles of true-crime books or drive an hour for the fairy exhibit at a nearby museum without ever having to explain yourself.

7. You can try all five of Cold Stone Creamery's July-only flavors... twice... before noon... and not have to hide the fact that you ruined your appetite for lunch.

8. When you get to the front of the line at Blockbuster, you know with certainty that you're not going to have to pay someone else's late fees for a movie you'd never watch.

9. You never, ever have to look over your shoulder before drinking straight from the milk carton. In fact, being single means you can leave the toilet seat up, the toothpaste cap off and your dirty undies on the bathroom floor. Let your inner slob run free!

10. You get to go to parties and barbecues without worrying that the person you lugged with you is bored, annoyed, or getting embarrassingly drunk. (And you get to flirt with every hot prospect there!)

11. If a sexy, brooding plumber with a mysterious past moves in next door and captures the attention of all the local ladies, you don't have to agonize over whether or not to leave your mate to pursue your one shot at true love. If things click, you're untethered, and it's game on, toilet boy! (For guys, substitute a pair of sexy blonde cheerleader twins for the brooding plumber.)

12. Nobody ever hogs your side of the bed, steals your cover, wakes you up with freezer-toes or flops his or her sweaty night-bod on you. And every single night, you nod off knowing that you're in the company of someone who really loves you.

Single girl Laura Gilbert is a freelance writer in New York City. Her recycling often consists of nothing but Domino's boxes and Gatorade bottles, and she's proud of it.

For more dating and relationships, visit!

'Obie' Benson of the Four Tops Dies at 69

'Obie' Benson of the Four Tops Dies at 69

By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press Writer
5 hours ago

DETROIT - Renaldo "Obie" Benson, a member of the legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, died Friday. He was 69. Benson died of lung cancer that was discovered when he had a leg amputated several weeks ago because of circulation problems, said his publicist, Matt Lee.

The Four Tops sold more than 50 million records and recorded hit songs such as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Reach Out (I'll be There)," "I Can't Help Myself" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love."

Benson's death leaves two surviving members of the original group: Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir. The fourth original Top, Lawrence Payton, died of liver cancer in 1997. They are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Benson "enjoyed every moment of his life," Fakir told the Detroit Free Press through a publicist. "He put a smile on everyone's face, including my own."

The Four Tops began singing together in the 1950s under the name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops.

The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced a string of hits over the next decade, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy's Motown lineup.

Benson was active with the group even into his 60s, spending more than a third of each year performing on the road. The group last played on April 8 on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Heartfelt R&B Singer Vandross Dies at 54

Heartfelt R&B Singer Vandross Dies at 54

By SAM DOLNICK, Associated Press Writer
6 hours ago

NEW YORK - Luther Vandross' style harkened back to a more genteel era of crooning, with songs that spoke to heartfelt emotions and gentle pillow talk rather than explicit sexuality.

"I'm more into poetry and metaphor, and I would much rather imply something rather than to blatantly state it," the Grammy award winner once said. "You blatantly state stuff sometimes when you can't think of a a poetic way to say it."

Vandross, whose deep, lush voice on hits such as "Here and Now" and "Any Love" provided the romantic backdrop for millions of couples, died Friday. He was 54.

The singer died at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, N.J., said hospital spokesman Rob Cavanaugh. He did not release the cause of death but said in a statement that Vandross "never really recovered" from a stroke two years ago.

Since the stroke in his Manhattan home on April 16, 2003, the R&B crooner stopped making public appearances - but amazingly managed to continue his recording career. In 2004, he captured four Grammys as a sentimental favorite, including best song for the bittersweet "Dance With My Father."

Vandross, who was in a wheelchair at the time, delivered a videotaped thank you.

"Remember, when I say goodbye it's never for long," said a weak-looking Vandross. "Because" - he broke into his familiar hit - "I believe in the power of love."

Vandross also battled weight problems for years while suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

He was arguably the most celebrated R&B balladeer of his generation. He made women swoon with his silky yet forceful tenor, which he often revved up like a motor engine before reaching his beautiful crescendos.

Jeff O'Conner, Vandross' publicist, called his death "a huge loss in the R&B industry." O'Conner said he received condolence calls Friday from music luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones.

Singer Roberta Flack, on tour in Japan, said she was mourning the loss of her friend of more than 20 years.

"He was a musician who couldn't help but give you all he had," she said by telephone. "He was the kind of guy who was born to do what he did musically and let the world know about it. He was not born to keep it smothered in the chest."

Vandross was a four-time Grammy winner in the best male R&B performance category, taking home the trophy in 1990 for the single "Here and Now," in 1991 for his album "Power of Love," in 1996 for the track "Your Secret Love" and a last time for "Dance With My Father."

The album, with its single of the same name, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts while Vandross remained hospitalized from his stroke. It was the first time a Vandross album had topped the charts in its first week of release.

In 2005, he was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for a duet with Beyonce on "The Closer I Get To You."

Vandross' sound was so unusual few tried to copy it; even fewer could.

"I'm proud of that - it's one of the things that I'm most proud of," he told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview. "I was never compared to anyone in terms of sound."

A career in music seemed predestined for Vandross; both his parents were singers, and his sister, Patricia, was part of a 1950s group called the Crests.

But the New York native happily toiled in the musical background for years before he would have his first hit. He wrote songs for projects as varied as a David Bowie album ("Fascination") and the Broadway musical "The Wiz" ("Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)"), sang backup for acts such as Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, and even became a leading commercial jingle singer.

Vandross credited Flack for prodding him to move into the spotlight after listening to one of his future hits, "Never Too Much."

"She started crying," he recalled. "She said, `No, you're getting too comfortable (in the background). ... I'm going to introduce you to some people and get your career started.'"

Vandross' first big hit came as the lead vocalist for the group Change, with their 1980 hit, "The Glow of Love." That led to a recording contract with Epic Records, and in 1981, he made his solo recording debut with the disc "Never Too Much." The album, which contained his aching rendition of "A House is Not a Home," became an instant classic.

Over the years, Vandross would emerge as the leading romantic singer of his generation, racking up one platinum album after another and charting several R&B hits, such as "Superstar," "Give Me The Reason" and "Love Won't Let Me Wait."

Yet, while Vandross was a household name in the black community, he was frustrated by his failure to become a mainstream pop star. Indeed, it took Vandross until 1990 to score his first top 10 hit - the wedding staple "Here & Now."

"I just wanted more success. I didn't want to suddenly start wearing blond wigs to appeal to anyone," he told the AP.

"This is the same voice that sang Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, NBC 'proud as a peacock,' ... America, the world, has heard the voice, so there's no reason that that music shouldn't have gone the complete distance, I mean, to number one."

Another frustration for Vandross was his lifelong battle with obesity. Health problems ran in his family, and Vandross struggled for years to control his waistline. When he first became a star, he was a hefty size; a few years later, he was almost skinny. His weight fluctuated so much that rumors swirled that he had more serious health problems than the hypertension and diabetes caused by his large frame.

Vandross' two sisters and a brother died before him. The lifelong bachelor never had any children, but doted on his nieces and nephews. The entertainer said his busy lifestyle made marriage difficult; besides, it wasn't what he wanted.


Associated Press Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this story.

Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor to Retire From Supreme Court

O'Connor to Retire From Supreme Court

By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
3 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and a key swing vote on issues such as abortion and the death penalty, said Friday she is retiring.

O'Connor, 75, said she expects to leave before the start of the court's next term in October, or whenever the Senate confirms her successor. There was no immediate word from the White House on who might be nominated to replace O'Connor.

It's been 11 years since the last opening on the court, one of the longest uninterrupted stretches in history. O'Connor's decision gives President Bush his first opportunity to appoint a justice.

"This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor," she said in a one-paragraph letter to Bush. "It has been a great privilege indeed to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms. I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the court and its role under our constitutional structure."

Bush planned to make a statement at 11:15 a.m. EDT in the White House Rose Garden on her resignation. Spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush would not at that time be announcing a nominee to succeed her.

O'Connor's retirement came amid speculation that the aging court would soon have a vacancy. But speculation has most recently focused on Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80, and suffering from thyroid cancer. Rehnquist has offered no public clue as to his plans.

The White House has refused to comment on any possible nominees, or whether Bush would name a woman to succeed O'Connor. Her departure leaves Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the only other woman among the current justices.

Possible replacements include Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and federal courts of appeals judges J. Michael Luttig, John Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Michael McConnell, Emilio Garza and James Harvie Wilkinson III. Others mentioned are former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, lawyer Miguel Estrada and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, but Bush's pick could be a surprise choice not well known in legal circles.

Another prospective candidate is Edith Hollan Jones, a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was also considered for a Supreme Court vacancy by President Bush's father.

O'Connor's appointment in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan, quickly confirmed by the Senate, ended 191 years of male exclusivity on the high court.

She wasted little time building a reputation as a hard-working moderate conservative who emerged as a crucial power broker on the nine-member court.

O'Connor often lines up with the court's conservative bloc, as she did in 2000 when the court voted to stop Florida presidential ballot recounts sought by Al Gore, and effectively called the election for Bush.

As a "swing voter," however, O'Connor sometimes votes with more liberal colleagues.

Perhaps the best example of her influence is the court's evolving stance on abortion. She distanced herself both from her three most conservative colleagues, who say there is no constitutional underpinning for a right to abortion, and from more liberal justices for whom the right is a given.

O'Connor initially balked at letting states outlaw most abortions, refusing in 1989 to join four other justices who were ready to reverse the landmark 1973 decision that said women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Then in 1992, she helped forge and lead a five-justice majority that reaffirmed the core holding of the 1973 ruling. Subsequent appointments secured the abortion right. Commentators called O'Connor the nation's most powerful woman, but O'Connor poo-poohed the thought.

"I don't think it's accurate," she said in an Associated Press interview.

O'Connor in late 1988 was diagnosed as having breast cancer, and she underwent a mastectomy. She missed just two weeks of work. That same year, she had her appendix removed.

For years, O'Connor had an involuntary nodding of her head, but said she never had it diagnosed. The movement, while not constant, was an up-and-down motion similar to that made by someone nodding in the affirmative.

O'Connor remained the court's only woman until 1993 when, much to O'Connor's delight and relief, President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg.

The enormity of the reaction to O'Connor's appointment had surprised her. She received more than 60,000 letters in her first year, more than any one member in the court's history.

"I had no idea when I was appointed how much it would mean to many people around the country," she once said. "It affected them in a very personal way. People saw it as a signal that there are virtually unlimited opportunities for women. It's important to parents for their daughters, and to daughters for themselves."

At times, the constant publicity was almost unbearable. "I had never expected or aspired to be a Supreme Court justice. My first year on the court made me long at times for obscurity," she once said.

On the court, O'Connor generally favored states in disputes with the federal government and for enhanced police powers challenged as violative of asserted individual rights.

In 1985, she wrote for the court as it ruled that the confession of a criminal suspect first warned about his rights may be used as trial evidence even if police violated a suspect's rights in obtaining an earlier confession.

O'Connor wrote the 1989 decision that struck down as an unconstitutional form of affirmative action a minority set-aside program for construction projects in Richmond, Va.

In 1991, she led the court as it ruled in its first-ever decision on rape-shield laws that states may under some circumstances bar evidence that a defendant and his alleged victim previously had consensual sex.

O'Connor once described herself and her eight fellow justices as nine fire fighters.

"When (someone) lights a fire, we invariably are asked to attend to the blaze. We may arrive at the scene a few years later," she said.

O'Connor was 51 when she joined the court to replace the retired Potter Stewart. A virtual unknown on the national scene until her appointment, she had served as an Arizona state judge, and before that as a member of her state's Legislature.

A fourth-generation Arizonan, she had grown up on a sprawling family ranch.

The woman who climbed higher in the legal profession than had any other member of her sex did not begin her career auspiciously. As a top-ranked graduate of Stanford's prestigious law school, class of 1952, O'Connor discovered that most large law firms did not hire women.

One offered her a job as a secretary. Perhaps it was that early experience that shaped O'Connor's professional tenacity. She once recalled a comment by an Arizona colleague: "With Sandra O'Connor, there ain't no Miller time."

"I think that's true," confessed the justice whose work week most often extended beyond 60 hours.

But she played tennis and golf well, danced expertly with her husband, John, and made frequent appearances on the Washington party circuit.

O'Connor was embarrassed in 1989 after conservative Republicans in Arizona used a letter she had sent to support their claim that the United States is a "Christian nation."

The 1988 letter, which prompted some harsh criticism of O'Connor by legal scholars, cited three Supreme Court rulings in which the nation's Christian heritage was discussed.

O'Connor said she regretted the letter's use in a political debate. "It was not my intention to express a personal view on the subject of the inquiry," she said.

O'Connor's name was linked in 1985 with that of Washington Redskins football star John Riggins when at a formal dinner he was heard to tell the justice sharing his table, "Loosen up, Sandy baby."

Shortly thereafter, the women who participated with O'Connor at an 8 a.m. daily exercise class presented her with a tee-shirt that proclaimed: "Loosen up at the Supreme Court."

The O'Connors have three sons, Scott, Brian and Jay.

A Holiday Message from Bill

Good Morning Reader,
To begin, HAPPY FRIDAY!!! Or, as Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Howard Dean would say, "Yeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I just wanted to wish all of you a safe and Happy Independence Day holiday weekend. As we take a few brief moments to reflect the freedom and liberty we fought for nearly two hundred thirty years ago, we need to hold those same thoughts to those in both Iraq and Iran, as we lead the crusade in granting the citizens there the same plan of success our forefathers laid out for us. If you need a contemporary model to prove this, look at Japan.

Take care each and every one of you, and thank you for reading the Phillips Philes.



Dean cancels Columbia visit; GOP cashes in

Dean cancels Columbia visit; GOP cashes in

Posted on Wed, Jun. 29, 2005


Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Howard Dean was a no-show for a state Democratic Party fund raiser Wednesday after bad weather in Philadelphia kept the Democratic National Committee chairman grounded.

But Dean's absence didn't stop state Republicans from screaming all the way to the bank.

"The weather just made it impossible to get down there," DNC spokesman Luis Miranda said. Dean is committed to help the state party raise money and grow and he will reschedule the visit, Miranda said.

Lachlan McIntosh, the party's executive director, said $5,000 in Internet donations had come in for the event. Plans had called for around 300 people to show up at the minimum $50-per-person event, generating at least $15,000 more.

When word came that Dean's plane wouldn't be off the ground in time to make it to Columbia, the party sent out a note saying it would be refunding money instead of putting it in the bank.

"Unfortunately, rain and travel delays have prevented me from attending tonight's fund-raiser with the South Carolina Democratic Party, but nothing has dampened my enthusiasm for building the party so that we can elect Democrats in South Carolina," Dean said in a statement released after he canceled his trip.

Dean has been stirring interest at the state level and has reinvigorated efforts to reach people who give small donations to political causes and candidates. Dean can keep those people engaged and interested as the 2006 contests looming, said Furman University political science professor Jim Guth.

"Our commitment to the South Carolina party is clear, which is why the DNC has included it in our most recent round of investments in state parties," Dean said

While Democrats waited for the former presidential candidate, the state GOP held a Dean scream contest in anticipation of Dean's arrival. A week ago, the party sent out a flier inviting people to a "No-show send Howard home rally" and garnered $22,000 in contributions, said Scott Malyerck, the state GOP executive director.

"We hope Howard Dean comes back every month," Malyerck said.

The state GOP's scream-off was intended to poke fun at Dean, whose attempt at a troop-rallying "yeah" after the 2004 Iowa caucus became the most laughed about moment of the campaign. Dean lost the next 16 contests, including a next-to-last showing in South Carolina a couple of weeks later.

The scream-off drew a handful of high school and college Republicans who were judged on "lack of poise in appearance" and "extent of angry, insane ranting."

Contestants had to repeat Dean's cry that his campaign was "going to South Carolina and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico. We're going to California and Texas and New York, and we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House - yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Richard Hahn, a Dreher High School student, won the contest - embellishing Dean's itinerary by adding Canada and Puerto Rico as campaign trail stops.

The contest didn't impress McIntosh, who said it is time for Republicans to "stop screaming and start trying to lead again."

But not all the state Democrats support some of Dean's recent comments.

He recently said the Republican Party is "pretty much a white, Christian party" and said many Republicans "never made an honest living." It prompted Democratic Chairman Joe Erwin to write to Dean and complain.

"I'm trying to recruit white Christians for the Democrat Party, and we are recruiting - white Christians and African-American Christians and people of all faiths and races," Erwin said at the time. "We don't need to ostracize anybody."

For South Carolina Republicans, "Dean is a gift from heaven," Guth said.

John Paul II Placed on Path to Sainthood

John Paul II Placed on Path to Sainthood

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 28, 5:51 PM ET

ROME - The Roman Catholic Church placed Pope John Paul II on the path to sainthood Tuesday during a joyous ceremony at a Roman basilica — the fastest start to a beatification process in memory for a man many considered a saint long before he died.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul's vicar for Rome, presided over the Latin-filled ritual launching the beatification "cause" at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

During the ceremony attended by cardinals, archbishops and other faithful, key officials sat at a table set up on the altar, standing to recite an oath to keep their work secret and to refuse any gifts that might corrupt the process.

The faithful remained silent during the oaths, and some in the crowd wept. But once the cause was declared officially open, applause rang out, Polish and Vatican flags fluttered in the pews and there were chants of "Giovanni Paolo" and "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately!"

Ruini was interrupted repeatedly by applause as he read a lengthy testimony to John Paul, tracing his life from his birth in 1920, through his years as a priest and bishop in communist Poland to his globe-trotting papacy.

"Any words that I can now add ... seem superfluous, so great and universal is the knowledge of him and so profound and unanimous the conviction of his saintliness," Ruini said. "We ask the Lord, with all our heart, that the cause of beatification and canonization that has begun this evening reaches its completion very soon."

Pope Benedict XVI announced May 13 that he was waiving the five-year waiting period and allowing the church's saint-making process to begin immediately for the Polish-born John Paul, who died April 2 after nearly 27 years guiding the church.

It was only the second time in recent history that such a waiver had been granted: John Paul placed Mother Teresa on the fast-track for sainthood in 1998. But her cause didn't begin until a year after her death, and although she was beatified in 2003, she is not yet a saint.

In placing John Paul on a fast track, Benedict was responding to the outpouring of calls for him to be canonized — including chants of "Santo Subito!" that erupted during John Paul's April 8 funeral Mass.

Church officials have said the process will take its regular course, with the investigation into the pope's life and writings, interviews with key witnesses and investigation of any possible miracles attributed to his intercession. One miracle must be verified for him to be beatified; a second for him to be made a saint.

Key clerics, however, have not dismissed speculation that the case might proceed at an unusually quick clip.

"We are working at a regular pace," the cleric spearheading the cause, Polish Monsignor Slawomir Oder, told Poland's TVN24 television. "But the pope is free to take his own decisions and it is not impossible that he may surprise us."

John Paul's longtime private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, said he hoped Benedict would announce that John Paul had been made a saint when the pope attends the church's World Youth Day this August in Germany.

Dziwisz conceded in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that "the chances of that happening are close to zero." But he added: "The world already canonized John Paul II, we are now only waiting for the final confirmation of this fact."

That was the sentiment among many of the faithful who gathered Tuesday evening at St. John Lateran for the hymn-filled vespers service to open John Paul's cause. The process was beginning at Rome's cathedral because the first phase of the investigation lies with the Diocese of Rome.

"If it were up to the people, he would be a saint immediately, but you need to respect all the laws of the church," said Marco Iacomino, a 33-year-old seminarian from Brescia. "He's a saint because he lived like a Christian needs to live, like a man needs to live. He didn't only say it, but he lived it."

During the ceremony, Oder, the postulator, handed over the list of witnesses who will testify to John Paul's saintliness — a number that he said last week was "more than a few dozen." The promoter of justice for the cause, who used to be referred to as the "devil's advocate," also presented the list of questions for the witnesses.

The promoter of justice, the Rev. Giuseppe D'Alonzo, said Monday that he would remain objective, investigating any doubts or weaknesses that might arise. But he hinted that he thought John Paul deserved beatification.

The Diocese of Rome has made no attempts to hide its desire for the case to proceed, reporting that more than 20,000 people had visited the official Web site for the cause, and that 100 e-mails a day were arriving testifying to John Paul's virtues. Most of the messages came from Latin America, followed by Europe.

Once the material is gathered, the Diocese of Rome turns the case over to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which appoints commissions to review the case and make a final report to the pope, who must decide if John Paul lived in a "heroic" way.

If the Vatican then confirms a miracle has occurred after John Paul's death thanks to his intercession, he can be beatified. Oder said he had already received reports of a possible miracle that warranted further investigation.


On the Net:

Beatification site,

Walton Seen As Humble Man Who Loved Flying

Walton Seen As Humble Man Who Loved Flying

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 28, 7:32 PM ET

JACKSON, Wyo. - As one of the richest men in the world, John Walton could have spent his entire life traveling around the globe on luxury jets. But the heir to the Wal-Mart fortune loved to tool around Wyoming in a cheap airplane built from a kit.

Walton died Monday at the age of 58 when the homemade experimental plane he was piloting crashed near the Jackson airport in Grand Teton National Park.

Walton was remembered as a humble man with a passion for education, the outdoors and all things flying.

"He was the kind of guy you'd never imagine had 20 billion," said Michael Collins, a flight instructor at Jackson Hole Aviation. "He didn't put on airs, you know what I mean? He could have just been one of the guys."

Walton's father was Sam Walton, who founded the discount store chain that would later become one of the biggest companies in the world. In March, Forbes magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on the list of the world's richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his younger brother, Jim — one spot behind his older brother, Rob, who is Wal-Mart chairman.

John Walton was on a company committee that reviews Wal-Mart finances and oversees long-range planning but was not widely regarded as being a potential successor to his brother. Acquaintances described him as one who preferred to avoid publicity.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board said Walton was flying a CGS Hawk Arrow, a kit-built plane priced from about $9,000 up. It was not known whether Walton built the plane himself.

Joan Alzelmo, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park, said the NTSB informed park officials Tuesday it would take over the investigation.

"There's a lot of national attention being paid to this," said Alzelmo said. "It happened in a national park to a person known nationally. I think everyone wants to make sure no stone is unturned."

Walton served in Vietnam, where he was a Green Beret medic and volunteered for a covert operation behind enemy lines. He won the Silver Star for saving the lives of his team members when they were under fire on a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam.

He opted against joining the family business after coming home from the war, saying it was too confining, according to a Forbes magazine interview last year. He attended company shareholder gatherings, but generally limited his appearances to a wave to the crowd while his older brother conducted the meetings.

In 1998, he and Ted Forstmann founded the Children's Scholarship Fund to provide tuition assistance for low-income families wanting to send their kids to private schools. The fund has benefited 67,000 students.

Friends said Walton also chaperoned regular ski outings for kids at a local ski resort and volunteered at his son's school.

Despite his fortune, "he had no ego in this game, which is why he was so revered," said Dan Peters, chairman of the Philanthropy Roundtable, of which Walton was a part.

One of Walton's biggest hobbies was flying, and he was a frequent face at the airport in Jackson. He also built boats and his own motorcycle and worked as a crop duster in the 1970s. The crash happened while a Cessna business jet he used sat on a runway near his Wyoming home.

John S. Meyer, who was in the special forces with Walton, recalled how decades ago they used to talk over a game of poker, a favorite pastime of Walton's, about what they would do when the war was over.

"'When I get out of here, when I survive this,'" Meyer remembered his friend saying, "'I'm going to go home and get a motorcycle. I'm going to get my pilot's license. I want to see the country.' And he did."


Bill's Comment: After emplyee discount, the final cost of that veey kit was $76.31.