World and Nation

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As 2008 Candidate, Giuliani Strikes a New Tone on Guns

As mayor of New York City, Rudolph W. Giuliani became the favorite Republican of gun control advocates.

He spoke in favor of a licensing system for gun owners that would require trigger locks and firearms training, and he lobbied Congress to outlaw most military-style assault weapons. He was the only Republican mayor to join a lawsuit by dozens of cities against the gun industry, and he complained that Southern states had lax gun laws that fed the illegal weapons trade in the Northeast.

"It was very important to have a visible Republican to make the case that this wasn't some liberal Democratic agenda," said Paul Helmke, a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., and the president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "I was at the signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House when Bill Clinton signed the crime bill with the assault weapons ban, and Giuliani had the most prominent seat in the front row."

But as a presidential candidate, Giuliani now talks very differently about guns as he tries to allay the concerns of Republican primary voters. He says he supports the right of individuals to bear arms, and that states — and generally not the federal government — should decide whether to put some limits on that right. He also spoke in favor of a federal appeals court ruling this month that struck down a District of Columbia law barring people from keeping handguns in their homes.

News Corp. and NBC in Web Deal

In a long-anticipated challenge to YouTube and other online video sites, two big media companies Thursday announced a new venture to showcase their own programming across the Internet's biggest Web sites, as well as a new jointly owned Web destination.

The News Corp. and NBC Universal will distribute their latest video fare, like episodes of "24" and "The Office" on AOL, Yahoo, MSN and MySpace, which together reach about 96 percent of the Internet's audience in the United States.

The content, which will appear in an embedded media player on these Web sites as well as on a new separate video site that News Corp. and NBC Universal will introduce, will be supported by advertising and free to viewers.

Viewers will also be able to edit the content and post their own videos, a popular feature of other online video sites, as well as buy downloads of movies from the 20th Century Fox and Universal studios.

News Corp. and NBC Universal, like other media companies, have had complex and increasingly tense relationships with Google, which owns YouTube. The media companies' copyrighted material, like television shows and music videos, show up on YouTube without the media companies' permission. Viacom, which has held discussions to join the unnamed new venture but so far as not, is suing YouTube for $1 billion alleging copyright infringement.

Citing Quran, German Judge Defers Muslim Divorce Case

A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Quran in turning down a German Muslim's request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Quran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.

News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence.

The court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Datz-Winter from the case on Wednesday, saying it could not justify her reasoning. The woman's lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, said she decided to publicize the ruling, which was issued in January, after the court refused her request for a new judge.

"It was terrible for my client," Becker-Rojczyk said. "This man beat her seriously from the beginning of their marriage. After they separated, he called her and threatened to kill her."

Muslim leaders agreed that Muslims living here must be judged by the German legal code. But they were just as offended by what they characterized as the judge's misinterpretation of a much-debated passage in the Quran governing relations between husbands and wives.

In Baghdad, U.N. Chief Praises Security as Shell Explodes

A mortar shell fired into the heavily fortified Green Zone landed about 80 yards from the home of Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki on Thursday while he and the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, were holding a news conference to mark Ban's first visit to Baghdad.

Like most such attacks on the Green Zone, a favorite target for insurgents with mortars and rockets, the bombing caused some structural damage but no casualties. Its greatest impact was felt in the symbolic realm.

Seconds before the shell struck, Ban said he was considering expanding the U.N. presence in Iraq because of an improvement in the security situation. The deafening explosion seemed to unnerve the secretary-general, who like almost everyone else in the room ducked his head as windows shattered outside and flecks of plaster drifted down from the ceiling. Al-Maliki barely shifted.

A bodyguard rushed up to al-Maliki and grabbed his arm in an effort to lead him to another room, but the prime minister brushed him away, saying sharply, "It's nothing." When the bodyguard did not relent, the prime minister turned to him and snapped, "Go!"