- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2002

Flight delays likely in Europe this week

PARIS Passengers taking European flights on Wednesday are likely to find their travel plans severely disrupted by a coordinated strike protesting EU reforms in air-traffic control, French unions warned last week.
"Major disruptions" are forecast because of the stoppages in France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Portugal, the head of the SNCTA union, Alain Serres, told Agence France-Presse.
Work-to-rule action at the Eurocontrol center in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, and in Switzerland, as well as similar actions in Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Slovenia and Spain, also would affect flights, he said.
The call for the disruption by 13 unions covering air-traffic controllers is to protest the European Commission's "open skies" plan, under which air movements would be managed centrally rather than by the patchwork of national authorities.

2 in Schroeder's party held in fund scandal
COLOGNE, Germany Police have arrested two former Social Democrat (SPD) regional leaders believed to be linked to a party-funding scandal in Cologne, the state prosecutor's office announced.
Former state SPD chief Norbert Ruether was arrested on corruption charges in connection with the building of an incinerator plant in Cologne. Another former high-ranking state SPD official, Karl Wienand, and the businessman running the plant, Hellmut Trienekens, were arrested on tax evasion and bribery charges.
The arrests come as SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder campaigns for general elections in September.

Satellite enthusiast sees security risk
LONDON NATO troops in the Balkans could be endangered by the wide availability of U.S. spy-plane photo transmissions, says a British satellite enthusiast.
The freely available pictures by manned spy planes and drones can pinpoint a location to within 6 feet and can be seen by anyone with a television satellite dish, journalist John Locker said. "This could put troops at risk on the ground. Those pictures are within real time of three seconds."
Mr. Locker, who picked up the broadcast from the Telstar satellite over Brazil at home on his satellite dish, stressed he was not tapping into anything. "This is not an intercept," he said. "I am not a hacker this is free-to-air programming."

Weekly notes
As cousins of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent inhabit a lavish seven-bedroom apartment in Kensington Palace, complete with nine reception rooms and staff all for a reported $100 a week. But maybe not for much longer. A committee of lawmakers has warned minor royals that the taxpayer-subsidized rents may end. "The fact is that we have got to move the royal palaces onto a more commercial footing," said Edward Leigh, a lawmaker from the opposition Conservative Party who heads Parliament's public accounts committee. Buyers will have a chance to bid for the biggest single-crystal diamond to hit the world market when a sparkling 179-carat gem is auctioned in central France on June 27. Experts spent 15 years chipping and polishing away at the black, pear-shaped gem the size of a chicken's egg, named "The Vulcan."


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