- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2000

Violence stops opposition rallies

HARARE, Zimbabwe The main opposition party said yesterday that political violence against its supporters was escalating as elections approach, and farm leaders reported assaults on two more white farmers.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said he was prevented from addressing a rally northeast of Harare after ruling party militants, many armed, blockaded the town of Mutoko.
At least 31 persons, most of them opposition supporters, have died in political violence ahead of parliamentary elections June 24-25. The Commercial Farmers' Union said two more white farmers were attacked this week, one of whom was hospitalized with head injuries.

Navy sonar considered culprit in whale deaths

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Autopsies of whales that beached in the Bahamas suggest a possible link between Navy sonar tests and ear hemorrhages that disoriented the animals, a biologist hired by the National Marine Fisheries Service said yesterday.
Darlene Ketten, an expert on whale acoustics, said "the coincidence of the timing and the pattern of the stranding with the presence of Navy sonars … raises a red flag, and I think that there's reason for concern."
But she said, "I'm still not ready to say the Navy did that."
Having previously questioned suspected links between whale deaths and anti-submarine sonar tests, the Navy said yesterday there was "a priority need" to examine the issue. It said it had created a group of experts to help.

EU assembly endorses anti-smoking measures

STRASBOURG, France The European Parliament endorsed anti-smoking measures yesterday requiring tobacco makers to cut tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes and print larger health warnings covering almost half the cigarette pack.
However, the European Union assembly rejected a call for cigarette packs to show photos of smoke-stained teeth, scarred lungs or young children imitating smoking adults.
The legislation now goes to the health ministers of the 15 EU nations, who are expected to give it their blessing on June 29. The laws will take effect Jan. 1, 2003.

Global maternity leave loses key backer

GENEVA A new international treaty to protect pregnant women and mothers of small infants lost a key backer yesterday when Argentina said it would abstain or vote against the accord because its provisions have become too watered down.
The new accord extends paid maternity leave and provides other benefits for pregnant women and mothers. Members of the International Labor Organization, the U.N. body that sets basic conventions on labor, are to vote today on the pact. A two-thirds majority is required for approval.

Mystery disease kills drug addicts

LONDON Public health officials in England and Scotland are working with scientists from the United States to determine what caused an illness that killed at least 32 drug addicts.
The Communicable Disease Center in London said yesterday that cases of the illness have been found in England, Scotland and Dublin. As of June 9, 64 cases had been confirmed since April 19, of which 32 were fatal. An up-to-date breakdown was not available.
Scientists think the illness may have been caused by anaerobic bacteria which live in the absence of oxygen. The infection is linked to heroin that is injected into muscle or other tissue, rather than into a vein.

Russian economy grew 7 percent this year

ST. PETERSBURG Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said yesterday that the economy grew 7 percent in the first five months of the year, part of Russia's continued rebound from the 1998 financial collapse.
Mr. Kasyanov, speaking at the fourth annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum, reiterated that Russia would continue to guard against a rise in the ruble's value.

Germany to shut all nuclear plants

BERLIN The German government and energy companies have reached agreement to gradually shut down the country's 19 nuclear power stations, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced early today.
He made the historic announcement at a brief news conference after about 4* hours of last-ditch negotiations under his auspices in the chancellor's Berlin office between government ministers and representatives of leading energy companies.
Under the compromise deal, Germany will close down its nuclear plants after a life span of 32 years, becoming the first leading economic power to officially renounce the use of nuclear energy.
The plan fulfills a pledge by the Social Democrat-Greens coalition government to establish a plan for the phasing out of nuclear energy production in the country.

Mugabe trains sights on seizing mines

LONDON Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signaled yesterday that his government might consider taking over the assets of foreign mining companies operating in his country and put them under African control.
In an interview with Britain's Independent newspaper, Mr. Mugabe, who is facing parliamentary elections in nine days time, said that after the issue of land ownership is settled, his attentions would turn to the mining sector.
"The land question will be settled," he said. "But who owns our mines? We are gold, copper, asbestos and iron producers, but most of the benefits are enjoyed by the former colonialists."

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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