- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2004


Second quake hits remote region

NABIRE — An earthquake measuring a magnitude 7.1 struck eastern Indonesia yesterday, a day after one of similar strength killed 27 persons and injured hundreds.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the latest quake’s epicenter was near the town of Nabire, in remote Irian Jaya province, according to survey spokesman Butch Kinerney. It was of greater magnitude than the 6.9 earthquake that struck nearby early on Friday, causing widespread damage.

Most of the deaths in Friday’s quake, which occurred in the early morning, were from houses and buildings collapsing in the town, a regional center of 26,000 people.


Drowned immigrants prompt investigation

LONDON — British police carried out raids on properties across northwest England yesterday as part of a search for the labor agents of 19 migrants, most of them Chinese, who drowned on a beach gathering shellfish.

Detectives earlier said they expected to make arrests within days and were searching for the people to whom the 19 low-wage workers were sent to gather cockles in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, where they were engulfed by the rising tides of the Irish Sea on Thursday.

Politicians led calls for laws to be tightened in the murky world of gang labor, where so-called “gangmasters” farm out migrant laborers, often illegally, to do poorly paid jobs in agriculture and unskilled industrial work like construction.

The young victims, 17 men and two women, were cut off in bitterly cold weather by rising tides in the treacherous flat bay, where the water rushes in faster than a person can run.


Parliament dissolved for early elections

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s president dissolved Parliament yesterday, paving the way for elections nearly four years ahead of schedule, a top presidential official said.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga said the vote would be held April 2.

The move came amid the president’s bitter political battle with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, which started Nov. 4 when Mr. Kumaratunga seized the key ministries of defense, media and police.


Protesters pan head scarf law

PARIS — About 900 people marched through central Paris yesterday to protest a law that would ban Islamic head scarves and other religious apparel from schools.

French legislators made minor concessions Thursday night in pursuit of wider support for the bill, but that wasn’t enough for opponents, who say the law is discriminatory and likely to stigmatize France’s 5-million-strong Muslim population.

Yesterday’s protesters played the French national anthem over loudspeakers and shouted “school is my right — the veil is my choice.”


Obscene gesture punished severely

SAO PAULO — The second American in a month was arrested while entering Brazil for making an obscene gesture while being photographed by an immigration official, police said yesterday.

Federal police in Foz do Iguacu on Brazil’s border with Argentina and Paraguay said retired U.S. banker Douglas Allan Skolnick, 56, was jailed overnight for flipping his middle finger in a photo now required to be taken of all U.S. tourists entering Brazil.

On Jan. 14, an American Airlines pilot was arrested and fined $13,000 after flipping his finger.

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