- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

BRITAIN

Guantanamo prisoners to be sent home

LONDON — Five British prisoners at the U.S. detention center for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be sent back to Britain within 24 hours, Home Secretary David Blunkett said yesterday.

Mr. Blunkett made the announcement while speaking at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

The five are among nine British citizens at the U.S. base in eastern Cuba. About 640 terror suspects are at Guantanamo Bay. The military has freed 88 and transferred a dozen to the custody of their home countries.

UNITED NATIONS

Women hit hardest by AIDS

Women are bearing the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, especially among young adults, in what U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called a “terrifying pattern” in the galloping disease.

Opening a session to mark International Women’s Day, Mr. Annan said women and girls accounted for more than half of the estimated 5 million newly infected people with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

About 40 million people are living with AIDS worldwide.

RUSSIA

Chechen rebel surrenders after talks

MOSCOW — The former interior minister of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov has surrendered to the forces of Chechnya’s pro-Russian chief, Akhmad Kadyrov, NTV television reported yesterday.

Civilian-clad Magomed Khambiyev was shown standing next to Mr. Kadyrov’s son and presidential security chief Khamzan Kadyrov, who said the surrender came after talks with the clan of the rebel former minister.

Akhmad Kadyrov, a former separatist who swung over to Moscow after the first Chechen war rom 1994 to 1996, hailed Mr. Khambiyev’s surrender as “a deathblow to Maskhadov.”

CHINA

Congress weighs constitutional change

BEIJING — Lawmakers began considering amendments yesterday to bring China’s constitution up to date with its increasingly capitalist reality by granting the first protection for private property since the 1949 communist revolution.

The changes, endorsed by the Communist Party as a key element of future prosperity, also would declare support for entrepreneurs who are creating millions of jobs and driving the country’s economic boom.

A vote is scheduled for Sunday, and the largely ceremonial National People’s Congress appears sure to pass them.

ITALY

‘David’ statue has ‘fragile’ ankles

FLORENCE — He’s not in bad shape considering he celebrates his 500th birthday this year, but Michelangelo’s David is suffering from weak ankles.

“The ankles are one of the most fragile parts of the sculpture. They are full of cracks,” Cinzia Parnigoni, the restorer in charge of the cleanup at Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, told Reuters news agency.

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