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MONDAY BRIEFING

Few answers, much sadness

July 03, 2006|Brian Hanrahan and Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writers

After a tragedy come the questions, and in the death of Cindy Conolly, the "whys" and "what-ifs" are many.

Conolly was accidentally run over and killed by a police SUV while sunbathing on an Oxnard beach last month -- the day after her son's wedding on the same stretch of sand.

Now Conolly's fiance asks himself if she'd still be alive if he had stayed with her longer on the beach. Her brother wants to know if the officers will be punished. And her son wonders whether he can ever separate his wedding weekend from the day his mother died. Page B1

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Iraqi lawmakers being targeted

The largest Sunni Arab coalition in Iraq says it will boycott parliamentary sessions until a female legislator abducted Saturday is released. Meanwhile, a Shiite legislator escapes from a kidnapping attempt, and a secular lawmaker survives an assassination attempt.

The Sunni coalition, known as the Iraqi Accordance Front, accuses the Iraqi government and U.S. troops of allowing criminal gangs to operate freely in the streets of Baghdad and demands that the Americans "spare no efforts to find her." And another Sunni group, the Muslim Scholars Assn., condemns American soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi woman and then killing her and her family. Page A6

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Religion and the presidency

How much of an issue is religion when voters go to the polls in this country? A new survey says antipathy against Jewish and Catholic candidates is fading, but voters are uneasy about the prospect of a Mormon candidate -- and a majority say they wouldn't vote for a Muslim.

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found that 10% of respondents were unwilling to vote for a Catholic as president; 15% wouldn't vote for a Jew; 21% would rule out an evangelical Christian; 37% would refuse to vote for a Mormon; and 54% wouldn't vote for a Muslim.

The findings could be a problem for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is considering seeking the Republican nomination in 2008. But a Romney advisor insists the poll doesn't mean much; if the governor runs, the advisor says, "I think he won't be judged only through that prism." Page A16

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Lots of sun, very little sin

In the California desert, practitioners of the oldest monastic tradition in Christendom quietly perform tasks of self-denial, committing themselves to poverty, chastity, obedience and worship.

Most of the 10 monks at St. Antony's Monastery, a Coptic Orthodox retreat 25 miles northeast of Barstow, are from Egypt; much of their life is spent alone in a tiny room with only a bed and a chair. But they do get visitors; thousands of people come to the monastery annually, many to wash the detritus of modern life out of their systems.

"It's just you and God," one retreat visitor says. "No cellphones, no nothing. This place gives you endurance while you are living in the world." Page B1

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Airbus pushes out two executives

Production woes and a controversy over stock options proved to be too much for the parent company of the European aircraft maker Airbus, which jettisoned two top executives.

Last month Airbus said wiring problems would delay production of a new super-jumbo airliner. Airlines and stockholders weren't happy, and then French regulators said they would investigate the sale of stock options worth $8 million by Noel Forgeard, co-chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. On Sunday, EADS announced that Forgeard and Airbus unit chief Gustav Humbert were resigning. Page C1

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Judges who always seem to agree

It must be a lawyer's fantasy: having the rapt attention of a Supreme Court justice who stands quietly and nods at everything you say.

A Washington legal journal makes the dream come true by creating bobbleheads of the Supreme beings. So far it has dispensed four 8-inch justices, with a fifth due next month. The magazine gives them away, but sometimes the figurines show up for sale on the Internet; one admittedly "obsessive" collector paid $2,100 for a William H. Rehnquist bobblehead and $800 for a John Paul Stevens. Page A16

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An understudy claims the spotlight

George Hincapie, a veteran of 10 Tour de France races and formerly a member of Lance Armstrong's cycling team, becomes just the fourth American to hold the lead in the race. Page D5 ... This year's Tour already has been marred by a doping investigation, but performance-enhancing drugs are hardly new to the event. Page D1

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CALENDAR

Capt. Fun Hog's biggest mistake

Three years ago, Aron Ralston made global news when he cut off his own arm after being pinned under a boulder in the Utah wilderness. Today, the 30-year-old daredevil -- known to friends as Captain Fun Hog -- admits he committed a fundamental outdoor sin: He failed to tell anyone where he was going. Now, using a prosthetic arm, Ralston still indulges his thirst for adventure. In his spare time, he is an author, a motivational speaker and a pitchman for beer. Page E1

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The family that plays together

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