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Bush arrives in Scotland for G-8 summit, suffers scrapes in collision

GLENEAGLES, Scotland—President Bush suffered minor scrapes on his hands and arms Wednesday, his 59th birthday, when he fell off his bicycle after colliding with a local policeman who was part of his security detail.

Bush was treated and bandaged by White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb and appeared fine later when, dressed in a tuxedo, he attended a dinner at the Gleneagles Hotel with Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The president is in Scotland to join seven other world leaders Thursday for the annual Group of Eight summit, where talks are to focus on global warming and increased aid to Africa. He also met for about 40 minutes with musician activists Bono and Bob Geldof, two of the organizers behind last weekend's Live 8 concert for African aid. Bono and Geldof have urged leaders from wealthy nations to be more generous in helping Africa.

Bush was about one hour into his bike ride on the hotel grounds and going "at a pretty good speed" during a light rain when he collided with an officer from the Strathclyde Police Department, according to White House press secretary Scott McClellan. McClellan declined to say who was at fault.

The president slid on the paved surface, sustaining abrasions. The officer, whom the White House didn't identify by name, was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, possibly suffering an ankle injury, though the extent of his injuries was unclear. Bush visited with the fallen officer and directed Tubb to monitor his condition at the hospital, McClellan said.

Bush began his fourth European trip of the year with a rousing defense of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a possible Supreme Court nominee, at a brief news conference during a courtesy call he paid to Copenhagen, Denmark, before flying on to Scotland. The president thanked Denmark for contributing troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush discussed a wide range of topics in a news conference after his meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, defending his position on global warming and inviting European journalists to visit Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to see how the United States is treating the prisoners it holds there.

Questions about the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement announcement last week dominated the event. The president said he didn't appreciate the criticism that Gonzales has received from some conservative groups for being too moderate on abortion and other issues.

" ... All of a sudden this fellow, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire," Bush said. "And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it at all."

The president implored senators to not let well-financed campaigns by "special-interest groups, particularly those on the extremes" influence their thinking during the nomination and confirmation process.

" ... This is an opportunity for good public servants to exhibit a civil discourse on a very important matter, and not let these groups, these money-raising groups, these special-interest groups, these groups outside the process, dictate the rhetoric, the tone."

Though he strongly defended Gonzales, Bush indicated that he's in the initial phase of choosing a nominee. He said he began studying resumes and legal rulings of prospective nominees aboard Air Force One on the way to Denmark. He intends to talk to senators on Monday, after he returns from Europe on Friday.

The president said he would apply no "litmus test" to rule out candidates because of their views on any single issue, such as abortion, affirmative action or gay marriage. "I'll pick people who, one, can do the job, and people who are honest, people who are bright and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from."

Bush has said he'll spend a few weeks winnowing down the list of potential court candidates and then interview some before announcing his choice. He hopes the Senate will confirm his nominee before the Supreme Court opens its next term on the first Monday in October.

"I will take my time," Bush said. "I will be thorough in my investigation."

Later, the White House announced that former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., will serve as an informal adviser to Bush and help shepherd his court nominee through the Senate confirmation process, much as former Sen. Jack Danforth, R-Mo., did for Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Turning his attention to international affairs, Bush said he's looking forward to working this week with his G-8 counterparts from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan on climate-change issues.

All G-8 nations except the United States have embraced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to lower greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. Bush, who maintains that the issue of global warming needs further study, said he recognizes that "the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem."

But he quickly added that the Kyoto treaty isn't an acceptable solution because it "didn't work for the United States and it, frankly, didn't work for the world," because it excused rising powers such as India and China from meeting its terms, putting disproportionate pressure on the United States to change its ways.

"I've told our friends in Europe that Kyoto would have wrecked our economy," he said. "See, I think there's a better way forward. I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."

On Guantanamo Bay, Bush said Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen expressed concerns about how prisoners are treated at the facility. In May, the human rights group Amnesty International called the prison camp in Cuba "the gulag of our time."

Bush said the prisoners there are being treated well, and he invited the Danish prime minister and European reporters to see the facility.

"There's total transparency," Bush said. "The International Red Cross can inspect any time, any day. And you're welcome to go."

Bush added that he's waiting for U.S. courts to decide whether the detainees at Guantanamo should receive civilian trials or military tribunals.

"And once the judicial branch of our government makes its decision, then we'll proceed forward with giving people fair and open trials," he said.


(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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