- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 4, 2004

ITALY

New finance minister to tackle deficit

ROME — While most of Italy decamped to the beaches and the mountains for their summer break, one man remained holed up crunching numbers in his office in Rome.

Domenico Siniscalco, Italy’s new finance minister, faces a daunting task. He will try to win support for an immense round of budget cuts — totaling at least $29 billion for 2005 — to contain Italy’s ballooning deficit and cut back its mountainous debt.

On top of the announced budget measures, Mr. Siniscalco is also under pressure to find space for $15.6 billion of tax cuts that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has proposed to revive the sluggish Italian economy and win support ahead of general elections.

EUROPEAN UNION

Threat of sanctions on Sudan renewed

VALKENBURG, Netherlands — The European Union yesterday renewed a threat to slap sanctions on the Sudanese government if it does not do more to rein in militias in the western Darfur region.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country now holds the EU presidency, welcomed some progress on the humanitarian situation in Darfur, but he lamented that security remains a problem.

He made his comments as EU ministers turned their attention to the Darfur crisis on the second day of informal talks in the Netherlands, clouded by the bloody end of the Russian hostage drama.

According to U.N. estimates, up to 50,000 people have died in Darfur, about 1.4 million people have fled their homes with about 180,000 crossing the border into Chad.

BRITAIN

French head-scarf ban angers British Muslims

LONDON — More than 400 people took part in a demonstration outside the French Embassy in London yesterday to protest the ban in French state schools of the Islamic head scarf or hijab.

The protests, on what those opposed to the ban had billed as “International Hijab Solidarity Day,” were peaceful, and police reported no incidences of violence.

The protesters rallied two days after the start of the academic year in France, which has banned the wearing of the hijab or any other overtly religious symbols in state schools.

BRITAIN

Deaths in prison called suicides

LONDON — Two men, one of whom had been jailed only a day earlier, were found hanged early yesterday in the prison cell they shared in Manchester, northwest England, in what authorities said appeared to be a suicide pact.

The Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, said that neither Shaun Hazelhurst, 26, nor Patrick Kilty, 32, had shown any suicidal tendencies and they had been under no special observation.

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