HARI SREENIVASAN: The Vatican made ready today for the conclave of cardinals that will elect the next pope. It begins tomorrow.
We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN RUGMAN, Independent Television News: This morning, the princes of the Catholic Church gathered for the last time before their most important task, voting in the 266th pope.
Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is the most talked-about for the role, though the Italian press claims his main rival is Odilo Scherer from Sao Paulo in Brazil. If that is true, this is a race between the old world and the new. Scola's Italy traditionally dominates the papacy, but Scherer's Brazil is now the biggest Catholic country in the world.
The cardinals will vote beneath Michelangelo's frescoes. Glance upwards and there will be no shortage of celestial inspiration. The voters are all sleeping in the same Vatican hotel, where all forms of media along with telephones are banned until the new head of the world's biggest church is revealed.
The last six popes have appeared on this famous balcony after voting lasting fewer than four days. And this week should be no exception. And when one seasoned Vatican watcher was asked to describe what the cardinals are looking for in a pope, this was how he summed it. "They're looking for Jesus Christ," he said, "but with a degree in business studies."
AUSTEN IVEREIGH, Catholic Voices: I think they're looking for three things in the next pope. They want a great evangelizer, somebody who can make the message credible, particularly in the West. They're looking for somebody with a global vision, somebody who will speak to the global picture of the church now.
And they're looking also for a governor, somebody who can get a grip on some of the -- some of the scandals, some of the dysfunctions that have come out in recent months from the Vatican. It's an almost impossible combination.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: The chimney has been installed atop the Sistine Chapel. Hundreds of cameras are already practicing lining up their lenses on it for news, and, inside, the stones where the ballot papers of 115 cardinals will be burned after voting up to four times a day. Only white smoke through the chimney signifies a new pontiff.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The new pontiff will succeed Benedict XVI, who resigned last month, the first pope to do so in 600 years.
New York City's move to cut sugary drinks down to size will not take effect tomorrow after all. A state judge today rejected the regulation, saying the loopholes in it defeat the purpose. The measure limits high-calorie sodas and other drinks to no more than 16 ounces, unless they're sold at supermarkets and convenience stores. City officials said they will appeal the judge's decision.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted today on 24 counts of racketeering and other federal corruption charges. Witnesses in the five-month trial said Kilpatrick steered city contracts toward a friend for a share of the spoils. He also used political donations and a nonprofit fund for personal spending. Kilpatrick could get 20 years in prison. He already served 14 months in an unrelated obstruction of justice case.
In India, one of six men accused in the gang rape and murder of a New Delhi woman died in prison today. Police said Ram Singh hanged himself in a jail cell that he shared with three other inmates. But Singh's lawyer vehemently denied that he would have killed himself.
V.K. ANAND, Defense Lawyer: This is not suicide. There has been foul play one way or the other, because this boy wasn't someone who would commit suicide. Everything was going in his favor. He was getting a fair trial. Family members were coming to meet him. And his children were visiting him. He was happy. Whenever we met him, he was always in a happy mood.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The case has gained worldwide attention and sparked protests across India. Four other men are still on trial and could face the death penalty. An additional suspect is being tried separately as a juvenile.
An Islamist group in Nigeria posted an online video today apparently showing the bodies of seven foreign hostages. The victims were from Lebanon, Britain, Italy, and Greece. Gunmen from the Ansaru extremist group abducted them last month from a construction site in the northern part of the country. The kidnappers said the captives were killed to prevent a possible British rescue mission.
State media say North Korea has made good on a vow to cancel the 60-year armistice that ended the Korean War. The announcement today followed last week's U.N. Security Council vote to impose new sanctions on the North over its latest nuclear test. North Korea also shut down a Red Cross hot line with South Korea. It is used to facilitate aid shipments and reunions of separated families.
Japan today marked the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people. The most powerful quake ever recorded in Japan launched mountainous waves that devastated the northeastern coast and sent radiation spewing from a damaged nuclear plant. More than 300,000 people had to flee, half of them from the radiation zone. Today, hundreds sued for compensation.
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to speed up the recovery and the cleanup.
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE, Japan: Reconstruction is a battle against time. I would like to reprioritize the recovery to one where the people on the ground can actually feel the recovery, rather than following what is considered standard operating procedure.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Following the disaster, Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were shut down for inspections and testing. Only two have restarted. We will have more on Japan after the tsunami later in the program.
Wall Street managed modest gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average added 50 points to close at 14,447. The Nasdaq rose eight points to close near 3,253. And the Lundberg Survey reported gas prices have fallen six cents in the last two weeks, the first drop since late December.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Gwen.