- - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CHINA

U.S. warned to keep out of South China Sea disputes

BEIJING — China urged the United States on Wednesday to restrain other countries from provoking Beijing in disputes over contested territories in the South China Sea, warning that Washington risks becoming embroiled in an unwanted conflict.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said it would be best if the United States stayed out of the long-standing disputes, but acknowledged that Washington has an interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes that are vital to trade.

“If the United States does want to play a role, it may counsel restraint to those countries that have frequently been taking provocative action and ask them to be more responsible in their behavior,” Mr. Cui said at a briefing. “I believe that individual countries are actually playing with fire, and I hope that fire will not be drawn to the United States.”

MEXICO

Cartel leader sought alliance with rivals

MEXICO CITY — A cultlike drug cartel that challenged a rival gang by rolling five severed heads onto a disco dance floor in western Mexico was so divided and cash-strapped of late that it sought to form an alliance with that gang, police officials said Wednesday.

La Familia gang leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was looking for support from the Zetas drug gang to fight splinter cells within his own organization, said Ramon Pequeno, chief of the federal counternarcotics police.

Mr. Mendez Vargas, alias El Chango, or “The Monkey,” was arrested Tuesday in the central state of Aguascalientes, where he was hiding. He was paraded before reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday.

He also is wanted in the U.S. in connection with drug-related crimes, Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said at a news conference. He didn’t elaborate.

Mr. Mendez Vargas worked for the Gulf cartel in the western state of Michoacan before he and other drug traffickers defected to form La Familia, which began a bloody battle for control of the state in 2006.

NETHERLANDS

Lawmakers to debate ban on ritual slaughter

THE HAGUE — Centrist Dutch lawmakers worked behind the scenes Wednesday to amend legislation that would outlaw centuries-old Jewish and Muslim traditions of slaughtering animals.

Facing a backlash from Islamic supporters for supporting the law change, the Labor Party has said it wants “to improve the legislation in certain areas.”

The party has not revealed what changes it wants, but said it still supports the legislation’s key goal — making it obligatory to stun animals before they are slaughtered.

As in most Western countries, Dutch law dictates that butchers must stun livestock — render it unconscious — before it can be slaughtered, to minimize the animals’ pain and fear.

An exception is made for meat that must be prepared under ancient Jewish and Muslim dietary laws and practices. These demand that animals be slaughtered while still awake, by swiftly cutting the main arteries of their necks with razor-sharp knives.

INDIA

Police, protesters clash in northeast India; 2 die

GAUHATI — A protest against squatter evictions turned deadly in a northeastern Indian city Wednesday as riot police fired tear gas and live rounds into the air to disperse thousands of stone-throwing protesters.

Two people were killed, including one who was hit by a police bullet, and at least 30 people including some officers were hospitalized with injuries from stones, police Superintendent Dipak Choudhury said.

Police fired rubber bullets and live rounds into the air while charging the 10,000 or so protesters marching toward the Assam state government headquarters in Gauhati, he said.

The protesters set several cars on fire and ransacked at least a dozen public buses, he said. Hundreds sat on the road blocking traffic for several hours after the violence, leaving only after officials agreed to hold talks with them next week.

UNITED NATIONS

Ban Ki-moon gets second term

The U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously to give Ban Ki-moon a second term as secretary-general Tuesday, praising him for strengthening the world body’s role and visibility in difficult circumstances.

The 192-member assembly applauded loudly as it adopted a resolution giving the 67-year-old South Korean diplomat another five years at the helm of the U.N.

Assembly President Joseph Deiss banged his gavel and proclaimed Mr. Ban’s selection by acclamation to a new term starting Jan. 1.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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