- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

ITALY
Mafia's loss is gain for homeless
ROME Italian authorities say they will distribute around 400 apartments confiscated from the Mafia to disadvantaged Sicilian families as part of a bold move to use criminal assets for the needy.
The state will use apartments, houses, farms and other property confiscated from the Cosa Nostra and other regional Mafias to house families crowding local waiting lists and boost local employment plans across Sicily.

GERMANY
Iraq crisis changes U.S.-German relations
BERLIN The Iraqi crisis will "speed up a strategic revision of relations" between Germany and the United States, the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, Daniel Coats, said in an interview to be published today.
"There will be a new appreciation [of relations], which is positive," between Germany and the United States, as well as France, Mr. Coats told the German-language Financial Times Deutschland.
There will be tensions and difficulties, but "we will have continuous, strong relations, which may be different from before," he said.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Rebels seize capital, declare new government
BANGUI Rebels in the Central African Republic captured the capital yesterday, and their leader declared himself president of this coup-prone nation and dissolved the legislature.
Rebel leader Gen. Francois Bozize also suspended the constitution.
In a state radio address introducing him as "head of state," Gen. Bozize said his fighters seized power "because of the mismanagement of the country and its inability to carry out its domestic responsibilities."

LIECHTENSTEIN
Voters give prince new powers
Liechtenstein's ruling prince won overwhelming support from his subjects yesterday to become Europe's only absolute monarch after a referendum campaign marred by hate mail and mutilated animal parts.
Voters in Liechtenstein, the tiny Alpine tax haven, backed a new constitution giving Prince Hans-Adam II sweeping powers. The vote was 64 percent for and 36 percent against. A counterproposal to diminish the prince's powers and leave him with a mere symbolic status won 17 percent of votes.
Under the new constitution, the prince wins the right to veto bills, fire the government and adopt emergency laws. But the constitution also gives the people the option of calling a referendum to abolish the monarchy.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
Zivkovic proposed as new prime minister
BELGRADE The party of assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic proposed for prime minister yesterday senior ally Zoran Zivkovic, who at once pledged to crack down on the kind of organized criminals blamed for the killing.
The main board of the Democratic Party, the largest in the ruling coalition, voted virtually unanimously for Mr. Zivkovic's candidacy four days after a sniper fatally shot Mr. Djindjic outside the main government building in Belgrade.
Mr. Zivkovic pledged to fight organized crime and said a state of emergency, introduced by the government to help hunt down the gangster bosses who the government says ordered the former prime minister's killing, should cease by the end of April.

AUSTRALIA
Troops await OK for Iraq battle
SYDNEY The Australian government will meet early this week to decide whether to commit its forces to a U.S.-led war with Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard said today.
Australia has 2,000 military personnel in the Middle East preparing for war with Iraq but has not formally given them the go-ahead to join any strikes on Baghdad.

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