- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2004


Spy agency plans 1,000 new hires

LONDON — Britain is planning a major recruitment drive to beef up its domestic counter-intelligence service MI5 in the fight against international terrorism, a government source said yesterday.

On Wednesday, Home Secretary David Blunkett is expected to announce plans to recruit 1,000 new staff members over the next few years to take the security service’s numbers up to 3,000, the source added.

Mr. Blunkett’s statement will come during a debate on the renewal of anti-terror legislation introduced in the wake of the September 11 attacks.


Chirac’s popularity drops by 6 points

PARIS — President Jacques Chirac’s popularity has slipped over the past month in the wake of the recent graft conviction of his right-hand man and former prime minister Alain Juppe, according to a poll yesterday.

Only 47 percent of French adults questioned said they thought Mr. Chirac was doing a good job, down from 53 percent last month, according to the poll by the IFOP Institute for the daily Journal du Dimanche.

Those who disapprove of his stewardship were up 6 points to 51 percent, while those who were very satisfied were down 4 points to 4 percent and those rather satisfied down 2 points to 43 percent.


Eastwood film wins top award

PARIS — “Mystic River,” Clint Eastwood’s tragedy about violence and vengeance, won the prize for best foreign picture at France’s Cesars film awards last night.

“The Barbarian Invasions,” a dry look at life, death and social change co-produced by Canada and France, was named best picture of the year.

The awards came a week before Hollywood’s annual Oscar ceremony. Both films are nominated for Oscars — in the best picture and best foreign film categories, respectively.

Weekly notes

Moldova’s communist-dominated parliament last week lifted the immunity of opposition lawmaker Yuri Rosca, who spearheaded anti-Russian protests last November in which Russian flags were burned. Opposition deputies held unauthorized demonstrations near the Russian Embassy in Chisinau to protest a Moscow blueprint for a political settlement of the crisis over Moldova’s separatist Transdniestr region. … A restaurant chef in Bochum, Germany, became so angry with his wife that he hurled a piece of meat at her but missed, hitting a female diner on the side of the head, police reported. The woman was enjoying a romantic dinner with her boyfriend when the raw slab of beef flew out of the kitchen door. The chef now faces charges of bodily harm after the woman, 38, was treated for minor injuries to her ear.

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