- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

Kostunica undecided on Serbian presidency
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said Friday he was still undecided about whether to contest Serbia's presidential election in September and repeated his concerns about the timing of the vote.
He said he was "planning to decide" whether to run and added that the election would distract attention from the task of forming a new union with Montenegro.
The mandate of current Serbian President Milan Milutinovic expires at the end of December, but Serbia's parliament last week scheduled the election three months earlier, on Sept. 29.
Belgrade officials have been under pressure from the international community to get rid of Mr. Milutinovic, a one-time ally of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial for war crimes in The Hague.

Russian backs laser to zap asteroid
MOSCOW A Russian scientist said Friday that a massive asteroid reported heading for Earth could be destroyed with the help of a powerful laser.
He was speaking after space experts warned this week that an 1.2-mile-wide asteroid, spotted from several different countries, could hit Earth in 2019, destroying life as we know it.
Boris Kartogin, general director and designer at rocket producer Energomash, was quoted by ITAR-Tass news agency as saying the asteroid could be thwarted, using a powerful laser installation based in space.

France drops airport plan at war grave site
PARIS War veterans yesterday welcomed signs that France was dropping plans to build a third Paris airport that threatened to disturb the graves of thousands of soldiers killed in World War I.
Transport Minister Gilles de Robien said Thursday he had asked local officials to repeal a ban on new private construction on the planned airport site at Chaulnes, 78 miles north of Paris, in the Somme, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Great War.
The move, which means residents can build houses without fear they might later be knocked down to make way for the airport, signaled Paris was backing off the project that has outraged residents, veterans, historians, families of the soldiers and the Australian government.
Many of the soldiers buried there were from Commonwealth countries.

Weekly notes
A first edition copy of "Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen's literary classic, sold at auction in Edinburgh, Scotland, yesterday for a record $62,500, the Lyon and Turnbull auction house said. An anonymous phone bidder paid three times the estimated value of the three-volume book, which dates to 1813 and was discovered by the owners of a castle in Scotland as they were planning to move. Jane Austen wrote "Pride and Prejudice," originally titled "First Impressions," between 1796 and 1797. Serious crime increased by 18 percent in Ireland last year according to police figures published yesterday. Assaults increased by 93 percent, sexual offenses by 83 percent and murders and drug offences were both up by 33 percent. The jump in the number of reported crimes follows five years of falling figures.

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