- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

COLOMBIA
Five powerful bombs defused in capital
BOGOTA Colombian authorities said they had narrowly thwarted a devastating rebel attack on the nation's capital yesterday, defusing five powerful, remote-controlled car bombs capable of punching holes in city blocks.
The announcement, accompanied by pleas for citizens to stay alert, came as President Alvaro Uribe was moved briefly to an army brigade over an unconfirmed plan by Marxist rebels to assassinate him during a trip to the city of Medellin.
The cars were packed with at least 550 pounds of explosives each and rigged with remote controls allowing the bombers to guide the vehicles to designated targets, which police said included their barracks and a bus station.

INDONESIA
At least 22 killed in Java mudslide
JAKARTA A huge wave of mud swept through a popular hot-springs resort in Indonesia yesterday, killing at least 22 persons, police said.
Five others were missing in the disaster in Pacet, a village in central Java, the main island.
The village is the site of three hot-spring pools that are popular with tourists. About 50 people were bathing at the time. No foreigners were among the dead, police said.

CUBA
14 killed, 70 hurt in train wreck
HAVANA A train carrying 800 people derailed in central Cuba, killing 14 and injuring more than 70, Cuban news media reported yesterday.
Five of the train's 12 cars derailed in the accident Tuesday night, Radio Rebelde reported. It said the accident occurred in the town of Coliseo, about 75 miles southeast of Havana. The train was headed from Havana to Santiago.
The passengers included more than 140 university students headed for a gathering in eastern Cuba.

TURKEY
Referendum likely on Iraq war
ANKARA Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of a top Turkish party, said yesterday that Turkey might consider calling a referendum on its role in any U.S.-led attack on Iraq, the Anatolian news agency reported.
NATO member Turkey is concerned that such a war could damage its economy and send the region into turmoil. Surveys suggest that most Turks oppose a war. The United States would look to Turkey for the use of air bases in any military operation against Iraq.
"We are a democratic country, and in democracies the onus is on parliament to make such a decision," said Mr. Erdogan, answering reporters' questions on a plane to Copenhagen from the United States, where he met President Bush.

BRITAIN
Index rates U.S. worst user of water
LONDON Some of the world's richest countries, including the United States, lag behind some developing nations in making the best use of water, a new grading system published yesterday indicates.
The first Water Poverty Index will be discussed at the World Water Forum in Japan next year.
Finland was ranked highest, followed by Canada, Iceland, Norway, Guyana, Suriname, Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The 10 countries at the bottom of the index were from the Third World: Haiti, Niger, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Djibouti, Chad, Benin, Rwanda and Burundi.
The United States was ranked 32nd overall in the index, but last in efficiency.
The index was developed by the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, England. The center is part of the British government-funded Natural Environment Research Council.

CHINA
Police sent to foil paper-mill protests
BEIJING Scores of riot police have been deployed to a northeastern Chinese city to break up protests by more than 2,000 unemployed paper-mill workers demanding better government support, a rights monitoring group said yesterday.
More than a dozen protesters were arrested Saturday in the city of Jiamusi in China's northernmost Heilongjiang province, New York-based China Labor Watch said.
Officials at police headquarters, the city's government, the Communist Party office and the paper mill all said that they knew nothing about the protests.

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