- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

ISRAEL

Budget vote clears way for Gaza pullout

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon overcame the last legislative obstacle to his hard-fought plan for withdrawing from Gaza when parliament ratified the 2005 state budget yesterday.

Capping a year of political upheaval, the 58-36 vote dashed the last hope of pro-settler rightists of getting parliament to torpedo what would be Israel’s first removal of settlements from occupied territory Palestinians want for a state.

Parliament rejected a bill for a referendum on the pullout on Monday.

KYRGYZSTAN

Ousted leader willing to resign

BISHKEK — Ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said yesterday he was prepared to resign after last week’s lightning coup if he was given appropriate guarantees.

In interviews on Russian television and radio, Mr. Akayev, who fled to Russia as opposition protesters stormed government headquarters on March 24, did not specify what guarantees he sought, but earlier said a return to his ex-Soviet mountain republic depended on safety assurances.

VATICAN CITY

Pope likely to get feeding tube

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported yesterday. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might need the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.

CANADA

Large seal hunt begins amid protests

TORONTO — Thousands of sealers armed with clubs, rifles and spears headed for the ice floes off eastern Canada yesterday for the world’s largest seal hunt, one expected to bring poor coastal communities millions of dollars, but condemned by animal-rights activists as barbaric.

The contentious harp seal hunt, the target of protests since the 1960s, begins about two weeks after the seal pups are born and their fur changes from white to gray. Animal-rights activists say the pups are clubbed to death and often skinned alive, but sealers and government officials who monitor the hunt insist the pups die instantly, under strict guidelines.

NORWAY

Rap trio off the hook in Bush death call

OSLO — Police said yesterday they closed an investigation into a Norwegian rap group that called for the assassination of President Bush during the U.S. election campaign last year.

The U.S. Embassy did not want to press charges, police said.

In October, the group Gatas Parlament, whose name means “the parliament of the streets,” called for donations on the Web site www.killhim.nu in order to pay anyone who succeeded in killing Mr. Bush. The U.S. Embassy had the site shut down.

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