Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Khatami warns Iran’s hard-liners

TEHRAN In one of his strongest attacks against hard-liners, President Mohammad Khatami warned yesterday of a social crisis if Iran’s ruling clerics kept misusing their power to stand in the way of democratic reforms.

Mr. Khatami’s comments reflect an ongoing power struggle with conservatives who have used the judiciary and the military to curb his plans to ease social and political restrictions in Iran.

“There are those … who accept no change,” Mr. Khatami said at an Interior Ministry conference, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. “Their God is their narrow and dark concepts that fight all the people’s demands in the name of religion.”

EU officials approve mad-cow spending plan

BRUSSELS European Union finance ministers yesterday approved a $900 million budget for fighting mad-cow disease and warned they would not pitch in any more money if it proved insufficient.

The spending plan, presented last month by the EU’s executive body, shifts surplus funds from the 2000 budget to cover the cost of destroying cattle and testing for mad-cow disease.

German Deputy Finance Minister Caio Koch-Weser noted that the spending cap for the EU’s agriculture budget had thus been reached meaning any additional funds needed if the beef market did not recover would have to come from savings or reallocation from other programs.

Estrada’s wife runs for Senate

MANILA Senate hopefuls rushed yesterday to declare their candidacies by midnight for an election seen as a referendum on the “people power” revolt that ousted President Joseph Estrada.

Among those who said they would run for Senate in May was Luisa Ejercito, Mr. Estrada’s 70-year-old wife. Imelda Marcos, widow of Ferdinand Marcos, was considered a possible candidate for mayor of Manila.

Mr. Estrada’s ouster has been likened to the overthrow of Mr. Marcos by a “people power” uprising in 1986. Mr. Estrada was toppled Jan. 20 in a military-backed popular uprising over corruption accusations. His vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has taken over to finish his term, which ends in 2004.

Italy ends search for missing ship

ROME The Italian coast guard called off a search for a ship yesterday that was thought to be carrying as many as 180 people, many of them illegal immigrants.

The ship, called the Davis, sent an SOS message Saturday evening that was picked up by Greek radio operators and transferred to Italy. It estimated the boat to be 24 to 30 nautical miles off the coast of Brindisi on Italy’s southeastern heel.

The coast guard at the eastern port of Bari said the search was over and that nothing had been found.

Madrid blasts blamed on Basque separatists

MADRID Two explosions linked to the Basque separatist group ETA rattled Madrid yesterday, but a potentially serious attack on a busy street was avoided when 88 pounds of dynamite failed to blow up, officials said.

The first blast was the detonator of a larger bomb that startled passers-by but failed to trigger the dynamite packed into a stolen car in the north of Madrid.

A second explosion nearby roughly an hour later destroyed another stolen vehicle, which could have been a getaway car used by the suspected ETA members after planting the first bomb, a police spokeswoman said.

Ailing Havel curtails Mideast trip

PRAGUE Ailing Czech President Vaclav Havel broke off a Mideast visit and was rushed home yesterday in the Kuwaiti ruler’s private jet after developing what his doctor said were symptoms of pneumonia.

Dr. Ilja Kotik said Mr. Havel, 64, was being treated with antibiotics at Prague’s military hospital. “His condition is not critical,” said Dr. Kotik, adding that the president had a temperature of 100 degrees last night.

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