- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2002

Blair backed deal by big party donor
LONDON British Prime Minister Tony Blair's business links returned to haunt him last week as answers were demanded about his backing for a Romanian deal by an Indian tycoon who gave a large cash sum to Britain's ruling Labor Party.
Mr. Blair's opponents now want to know why he wrote to his Romanian counterpart supporting plans to sell steel group Sidex to LNM an international conglomerate run by London-based Lakshmi Mittal. The prime minister's spokesman insisted Mr. Blair did not know of Mr. Mittal's $179,000 gift to the Labor Party when he signed the letter.

Slovenia makes progress toward NATO entry
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia Slovenia has made "good progress" in its efforts to apply for NATO membership, a NATO official said Friday.
The assistant NATO secretary-general for defense planning and operations, Edgar Buckley, however, warned that there was still a lot to be done before Slovenia could be invited to join NATO at the organization's Prague summit in November.
A visiting 16-member NATO team discussed some key points with Slovene officials, including the modernization of the country's armed forces, legal provisions relating to Slovenia's integration into NATO, financial resources and security issues.
Besides Slovenia, the most prosperous among the former Yugoslav republics, eight other countries have been recognized by NATO as candidates for membership. They are Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Macedonia, Albania, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Russian lawmakers want death penalty revived
MOSCOW Russia's lower house of parliament appealed to President Vladimir Putin on Friday to resurrect the death penalty, saying the country's murder rate, one of the world's highest, is undermining the public's confidence in the government.
The State Duma voted 266-85 to adopt the nonbinding appeal despite warnings from Putin supporters that reviving capital punishment would derail Russia's efforts to shed its repressive past.
Mr. Putin has said he has no plans to lift a moratorium Russia imposed in 1996 to gain entrance into Europe's leading human rights body, the Council of Europe.

WHO sees more smoking by European girls
WARSAW European countries are failing to stem a rise in smoking among teen-agers, with more girls than adult women now smoking, according to a World Health Organization report released here Friday.
Today, some 25.5 percent of 15-to-16-year-old girls and 28.3 percent of 16-to-17-year-old girls smoke in Europe, while the figure is 21.5 percent for adult women, according to a summary of the report.
As recently as 1998, adult women smoked more than girls, according to comparable data from 13 countries containing a quarter of the population of Western and Eastern Europe.
"For the first time we have data showing over the past five years girls and young women smoking more than adult women. In other words daughters are smoking more than their mothers," said WHO spokesman Franklin Apfel.

Weekly notes
Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, a niece of the late French President Charles de Gaulle who joined the French Resistance and was later deported to a Nazi concentration camp, has died. She was 81. She died Thursday in Paris following an undisclosed illness, according to officials at ATD Quart Monde, a French humanitarian organization she once led. … A Berlin man who laughed too much and too loudly was evicted from his apartment after neighbors complained, the Bild newspaper reported Friday. Juergen Olschewski, 59, was forced to leave his home in the working class district of Wedding because he "violated the rules" by laughing loudly.

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