- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

WHO: Tobacco firms in covert campaign

GENEVA The World Health Organization accused major tobacco companies yesterday of waging a covert campaign to subvert its efforts to reduce smoking, and warned the companies may now try to undermine work on a new global anti-smoking accord.

Tobacco companies Philip Morris and British American Tobacco denied the WHO accusations, saying their past activities were misrepresented and that they now hope to work constructively with the U.N. health agency.

Swiss health official Thomas Zeltner, who headed a WHO expert panel on the issue, said "the evidence shows that tobacco companies have operated for many years with the deliberate purpose of subverting the efforts of WHO."

Pinochet stripped of immunity

SANTIAGO, Chile Chile's Supreme Court has stripped Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution, paving the way for the former dictator to be forced to stand trial for alleged human rights abuses, court sources said yesterday.

The 20 judges hearing the landmark case refused to disclose the outcome of Tuesday's closed-door session, swearing themselves to silence until the verdict is transcribed and then signed by all of them.

Supreme Court President Hernan Alvarez, still declining to reveal the result, told reporters yesterday that a formal verdict was likely to be delivered next week

Shell seeks freedom for 165 hostages

LAGOS, Nigeria Royal Dutch/Shell said yesterday it was talking to community leaders in southern Nigeria on how to free 165 oil workers, including 20 expatriates, held hostage by local militants on two of its rigs in the Niger Delta.

A Shell spokesman in Lagos said the hostages, held by armed ethnic Ijaw militants since Monday, included seven U.S. citizens and five Britons. The remaining expatriates were Australians or Lebanese.

The spokesman said they were unharmed after spending two nights on two separate drilling rigs in the hot and humid mangrove swamps of the oil-rich Bayelsa State.

Murder, crime rampant in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia In Colombia, 87 persons are killed every 24 hours, while another 127 are injured, 204 are mugged and eight are kidnapped, according to statistics cited yesterday by the Bogota daily El Tiempo.

In the same period, on average, 79 automobiles are stolen and two banks are robbed, according to a statistical roundup published as the second year of Andres Pastrana's presidency comes to a close.

"While the administration gathers trophies in the war against drugs, the underworld has taken over the streets," the paper commented.

Walesa back in court to fight lying charge

WARSAW, Poland Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled Polish communism, was in court for the second time in a week yesterday fighting allegations that he lied about past ties with the secret police.

Mr. Walesa is among a dozen contenders in Polish presidential elections who, under a new screening law, must file statements disclosing whether they collaborated with the communist-era police. Anyone caught lying can be barred from running.

Mr. Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who battled communism for two decades, repeatedly has denied the allegations.

Polls show drop for Canadian Liberals

OTTAWA The upstart Canadian Alliance has emerged as the clear challenger on Canada's political right, and recent polls suggest the new party is starting to eat away at the lead of Prime Minister Jean Chretien's Liberal Party.

As numbers stand now, Mr. Chretien would probably still win most seats, but pollsters increasingly talk of a minority government and also point out that much will depend on momentum heading into an election, expected by mid-2001.

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