World and Nation

Shorts (right)

Giant Airport Is Just One of Beijing’s Olympic-Size Projects

Beijing airport’s new Terminal 3 — twice the size of the Pentagon — is the largest building in the world.

Adorned with the colors of imperial China and a roof that evokes the scales of a dragon, the massive glass- and steel-sheathed structure, designed by the renowned British architect Norman Foster, cost $3.8 billion and can handle more than 50 million passengers a year. The developers call it the “most advanced airport building in the world,” and say it was completed in less than four years, a timetable some believed impossible.

It opened in late February with little fanfare, but also without the kind of glitches that plagued the new $8.7-billion terminal at Heathrow in London, a project that took six years to complete.

This is the image China would like to project as it hosts the Olympic Games this summer — a confident rising power constructing dazzling monuments exemplifying its rapid progress and its audacious ambition.

While much of the world has focused on protests trailing the Olympic torch, China’s poor human rights record, its pollution, product safety and child labor scandals, workers here have been putting the finishing touches on one of the biggest building programs the world has ever seen.

Indiana Voters Say Pastor’s Remarks Haven’t Swayed Them

In the cafes, gift stores and the gourmet dog biscuit shop in this city’s neighborhood of Broad Ripple Village, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s name draws all sorts of responses — sighs, rolling eyes, laughter, grim silence.

But many people, like Clyde H. Crockett, a retired law professor who was sipping a drink in a coffee shop here on Thursday morning, said his thoughts about Wright will have no bearing on his decision — still unmade — about whom to vote for in Indiana’s Democratic primary Tuesday.

“Why should it?” he said. “No one should be tainted because of Rev. Wright.”

The shoppers in Broad Ripple and in the neighborhoods nearby reflect a demographic group — mostly white, highly educated, professional, artsy, relatively well-off, politically independent — that has leaned toward Sen. Barack Obama in other states and one that Sen. Hillary Clinton will hope to gain an edge with here, in a state that polls show as nearly split in two.

But in interviews here on Thursday, voters said Wright’s highly publicized comments and the responses and echoes that have followed have had little bearing on them.

Clinton Fights On, Uphill, In the Contest For Superdelegates

Have Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination improved as Sen. Barack Obama has struggled through his toughest month of this campaign? After weeks in which her candidacy was seen by many party leaders as a long shot at best, Clinton’s advisers argued strenuously Thursday that the answer is most assuredly yes, that the outlook is turning in her favor in a way that gives her a real chance.

Still, despite a series of trials that put Obama on the defensive and illustrated the burdens he might carry in a fall campaign, the Obama campaign is rolling along, leaving Clinton with dwindling options as time begins to run out.

Obama continues to pick up the support of superdelegates — elected Democrats and party leaders — at a quicker pace than Clinton. On Thursday, he got a boost from a high-profile defection: Joe Andrew, a former Democratic National Party chairman who had been installed in the position by former President Bill Clinton, said he had changed his mind and would back Obama. Even after Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania, Obama has held on to a solid lead in pledged delegates, those selected by the voting in primaries and caucuses.

And while Clinton has cut into Obama’s popular vote lead, it would be difficult for her to overtake him without counting the disputed results in Florida and perhaps Michigan.

Raul Castro Gently Nudges Cuba Toward Reforms

Can a rice maker possibly be revolutionary?

There they were, piled up one atop another: Chinese-made rice makers selling for $70 each. Beside them, sleek DVD players. Across the well-stocked electronics store were computers and televisions and other household appliances that President Raul Castro recently decreed ought to be made available to everyday Cubans, or at least those who could afford them.

Since finally succeeding his ailing 81-year-old brother Fidel in February, Castro, 76, who appeared before hundreds of thousands of Cubans at a May Day rally on Thursday in the capital, has been busy with a flurry of changes. In the last eight weeks, he has also opened access to cellphones, lifted the ban on Cubans using tourist hotels, and granted farmers the right to mange unused land for profit.

More is on the horizon, government officials say, like easing restrictions to go abroad and the possibility of allowing Cubans to buy and sell their own cars, and perhaps even their homes.

Each of these changes may be microscopic in contrast to the outsized problems facing Cuba. But taken together, they are shaking up this stoic, time-warped place.

Just how far Castro will be willing to tinker with the country his brother left him and what, if anything, he is using as his playbook nobody knows for sure. Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to reinvigorate the ailing Soviet system led to its collapse and Cuba’s abandonment.