- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2005

FRANCE

Homosexuals march for right to ‘marry’

PARIS — Demanding “marriage, adoption and equality,” hundreds of thousands of homosexuals marched through European capitals yesterday, in festive “Gay Pride” parades focused this year on same-sex “marriages.”

While Athens held its first parade in modern times with just a few hundreds marching through the Greek capital, Paris seemed to have the highest turnout with organizers estimating some 700,000 marchers and police about 300,000. Lisbon and Berlin had moderate crowds.

A law allowing same-sex “marriage” was passed earlier this year by the lower house of the Spanish parliament but still needs the approval of the Senate. The measure incited homosexual groups in other European countries to push for similar legislation, while at the same time sparking protests by religious and conservative groups.

RUSSIA

Putin meets with U.S. executives

ST. PETERSBURG — Russian President Vladimir Putin assured U.S. business leaders yesterday that his government remained committed to free-market principles and welcomed foreign investment, addressing concerns raised by the jailing of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

At a meeting at his opulent summer residence, Mr. Putin told executives from companies including Citigroup, Intel and IBM that he hoped U.S.-Russian economic ties would continue to grow.

While Mr. Putin did not refer to the state’s carve-up of Yukos oil company in his opening remarks, some Russian media viewed the meeting as the Kremlin’s attempt to assuage foreign investors shaken by the near-destruction of what was once Russia’s largest oil producer.

SWITZERLAND

New glitch hits rail network

GENEVA — Just days after the whole of Switzerland’s rail network was paralyzed for three hours, Swiss state railways suffered another major breakdown yesterday when a fire disrupted services on a main line out of Zurich.

Traffic was halted while fire services and engineers dealt with overheated electrical equipment on a power cable in a Zurich suburb, disrupting travel to southern Switzerland and local commuter services, a spokesman for Swiss federal railways said.

A short-circuit put the country’s entire rail network out of action for three hours during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, and another power failure blamed on lightning halted trains in much of the west of the country for an hour on Thursday.

GERMANY

Owner to sell pope’s birth home

MUNICH — The owner of the house in southern Germany where Pope Benedict XVI was born said she plans to sell it because she cannot cope with the swarms of tourists.

Claudia Dandl, who lives in the house in the Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn with her two children, said last week she wanted to move out to get some peace from strangers ringing the doorbell and looking through the windows.

Built in 1745 as a customs house, it had been turned into a police station when the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927. His father was the local commander and had his quarters in the building at the time.

The young Ratzinger lived there for only two years.


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