- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

UNITED NATIONS

Staff votes mistrust of Annan management

NEW YORK — The United Nations Staff Union voted overwhelmingly yesterday to express no confidence in Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his top managers after Mr. Annan announced plans to overhaul the U.N. bureaucracy.

A motion “to express a statement of no confidence in the secretary-general and his senior management team” was opposed by just two of more than 500 U.N. employees attending a closed-door emergency meeting of the staff group, said Staff Union official Guy Candusso.

Mr. Annan two days earlier had introduced a 33-page report on U.N. management reform that proposed outsourcing some U.N. work or moving staff out of the United States for some translation services, document production, printing and publishing and information technology. He also recommended staff buyouts and more training.

FRANCE

Ex-teacher surrenders after school holdup

SABLE-SUR-SARTHE — A former teacher armed with a handgun and reportedly suffering from depression held 23 hostages — mostly students — for several hours yesterday in a high school classroom before surrendering calmly, police said.

The 33-year-old man, who was unemploye, turned himself in after hours of negotiations.

SPAIN

Probe finds no link to al Qaeda

MADRID — A two-year probe into the Madrid train bombings concludes that the Islamic terrorists who carried out the blasts were homegrown radicals acting on their own rather than at the behest of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, two senior intelligence officials said.

Spain still remains home to a web of radical Algerian, Moroccan and Syrian groups bent on carrying out attacks — and aiding the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq — a Spanish intelligence chief and a Western official intimately involved in counterterrorism measures in Spain said.

The intelligence chief said there were no phone calls between the Madrid bombers and al Qaeda and no money transfers.

IRELAND

Police raid turf of IRA bandit

HACKBALLSCROSS — More than 300 police backed by British and Irish troops mounted dawn raids yesterday on the home turf of Thomas “Slab” Murphy, reputedly the Irish Republican Army’s veteran chief of staff and its most lucrative smuggler.

The operation was by far the biggest to date mounted around Mr. Murphy’s farm and fuel-distribution business. Its size underscored the importance that officials place on prosecuting Mr. Murphy.

INDIA

Officials to discuss Iran oil pipeline

NEW DELHI — Officials from India, Pakistan and Iran will meet in Tehran next week to discuss a pipeline project for the export of Iranian natural gas to South Asia, an Indian Oil Ministry official said.

The 1,600-mile pipeline, valued at more than $7 billion, first was proposed in 1994. But progress has been slowed by tensions between India and Pakistan, which are nuclear-armed rivals.

The United States, an increasingly close ally of India, has objected to New Delhi’s buying gas from Iran, which Washington accuses of supporting terrorism.

AUSTRIA

Stamps to bear meteorite dust

VIENNA — Austria will get a little stardust when the Austrian Post offers a stamp sprinkled with real meteorite dust, in a world premiere March 24.

About 600,000 copies have been made of the $4.50 stamp, which will contain 0.03 grams of stardust that came from a 19-kilogram (about 42 pounds) meteorite found two years ago in Morocco.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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