- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

3 nations assailed over religious freedom

A U.S. congressionally mandated commission advised the administration yesterday to blacklist Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for purported violation of religious freedom and beliefs.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also sought the removal of India from the government’s list of “countries of particular concern” after “significant” improvements in that country since the defeat of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004 elections.

The State Department annually blacklists countries for religious-freedom violations based on recommendations from the commission, whose 10 members are jointly appointed by President Bush and Congress.

CANADA

Martin to face confidence vote

TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday that a vote of confidence in his scandal-rocked government would be held next Thursday, as members of Parliament gather to vote on whether to approve his federal budget.

If the budget motion fails, Mr. Martin said he would dissolve the 308-seat House of Commons, which would trigger general elections in June.

AUSTRIA

Iran likely to resume nuclear activities

VIENNA — The U.N. nuclear-watchdog agency expects a letter from Iran as early as today announcing it will break U.N. seals and resume activities that Washington fears could be used to produce fuel for atom bombs, a Western diplomat said.

If Tehran resumes work related to uranium enrichment, it will probably push the agency’s key member states to refer Iran’s case to the Security Council of the United Nations for possible sanctions, diplomats said.

That would effectively end negotiations between Iran and European Union powers France, Britain and Germany, EU diplomats said.

BRITAIN

BBC staff to strike over job cuts

LONDON — British Broadcasting Corp. journalists and technical workers have voted to strike to protest thousands of job cuts, union officials said yesterday.

The BBC now faces the threat of a walkout at TV and radio stations across the country later this month and the possible disruption of some programs.

The BBC announced in March that it is shedding 2,050 jobs, in addition to 1,730 previously announced, from a work force of about 28,000.

CUBA

Castro defends American fugitive

HAVANA — President Fidel Castro has rejected calls to hand over a black militant convicted in 1973 of killing a New Jersey state trooper, saying she is a victim of racial persecution and not a terrorist, as U.S. officials declared recently.

“They wanted to portray her as a terrorist, something that was an injustice, a brutality, an infamous lie,” Mr. Castro said in a television address Tuesday night.

Mr. Castro was apparently alluding to Assata Shakur — the former Joanne Chesimard — who was put on a U.S. terrorist watch list May 2. A member of the Black Liberation Army, Shakur, 57, was convicted of killing New Jersey state Trooper Werner Foerster. She escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba.

SOUTH AFRICA

Maverick doctor seen harming AIDS fight

PRETORIA — A maverick German doctor who preaches nutrition instead of life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs to fight AIDS is sowing confusion and harming efforts to tackle the disease in Africa, a U.S. Embassy official said yesterday.

Prominent AIDS “dissident” Matthias Rath placed advertisements in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune trumpeting vitamins and nutrition in the fight against AIDS, and warning the public that anti-retroviral drugs are toxic.

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