- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2004

SWEDEN

Politician let off for Bush comment

STOCKHOLM — A politician who called President Bush “that … old man from Texas” while serving as Sweden’s migration minister will not face charges of racism, an investigator said yesterday.

Jan O. Karlsson’s comment during a press lunch in May 2003 was protected by free speech laws, Justice Chancellor Goeran Lambertz told the Swedish TT news agency.

Two days after the press lunch, Mr. Karlsson told the Associated Press he could not recall his exact words, but said he had expressed strong opinions about U.S. policies on AIDS prevention and population control in developing countries.

NETHERLANDS

Asylum seekers to be expelled

AMSTERDAM — A human rights group yesterday condemned the Dutch government’s plans to expel up to 26,000 asylum seekers as part of proposals to overhaul immigration procedures.

The Netherlands, where the anti-immigration party of murdered populist Pim Fortuyn swept into a short-lived coalition in 2002, could see asylum seekers expelled from special centers under a blueprint to be put to the lower house of parliament next week.

New York-based Human Rights Watch slammed the proposals by the center-right government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, calling it a “serious departure” from the Netherlands’ role as a leader in human rights protection.

The Immigration and Integration Ministry said it would only expel failed asylum seekers as a last resort.

ISRAEL

Pig fat to deter Muslim bombers?

JERUSALEM — A prominent Israeli rabbi has proposed hanging bags of pig fat in buses to deter Muslim suicide bombers who may want to avoid contact with an “unclean” animal, an Israeli official said yesterday.

The idea — suggested by Rabbi Eliezer Fisher, a rabbinical judge, in a letter to police — signaled the extremes to which some Israelis may be willing to go to stop Palestinian bombers who have killed hundreds of Israelis in recent years.

Asked about the deterrent capability of pig fat on Israeli buses, Palestinian sources called it an exercise in futility.

TURKEY

21 crew missing as cargo ship sinks

ISTANBUL — Rescuers battled strong winds yesterday in the search for 21 crew members of a cargo ship that sank in the Black Sea as a snowstorm sweeping out of the Balkans disrupted travel across Turkey and Greece.

The storm dumped up to 14 inches of snow in Istanbul, and lesser amounts fell in Athens, blanketing the Acropolis and other ancient monuments. Athens’ airport was shut down, as was ferry service to several Greek islands, which also lost power.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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