- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Cuban choir members said to seek asylum

OTTAWA — As many as half the members of Cuba’s 40-member National Choir skipped their downtown Toronto hotel Sunday to seek asylum in Canada, the president of the Cuban Canadian Foundation said yesterday.

Among the asylum seekers is baritone Ernesto Hermes Cendoya Sotomayor, foundation President Ismael Sambra said. He said some choir members had returned to their hotel for clothes “and were held by the state security officials.”

Government spokesmen said they had not been advised of the defections, but were checking into the case.


Mayor fined for ban on Muslim show

PARIS — A French court yesterday fined a mayor $900 for banning a fashion show that would have displayed a range of women’s outfits designed to respect Islamic tradition.

The administrative tribunal found that Jean-Pierre Brard, the communist mayor of the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil-sous-Bois, was wrong to have issued a municipal decree last year forbidding the show.

Mr. Brard banned the fashion show because, he said, it promoted the wearing of the Islamic veil, it barred men from being in the audience, and it “could result in a serious disturbance of the peace.”


U.N. council backs start of Kosovo talks

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council yesterday endorsed starting talks on Kosovo’s future, clearing the way for tough negotiations on the status of an ethnically divided province run by the United Nations since NATO’s 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

Diplomats at the meeting acknowledged the tough task they face in overcoming the central disagreement between the Kosovar government and Serbia — Kosovo wants full independence and Serbia refuses to give it.

The moves come after U.N. envoy Kai Eide presented his report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recommending such negotiations


Temporary ban likely on pet-bird import

LUXEMBOURG — European Union veterinary experts will soon discuss plans to ban imports of live captive and pet birds, another measure to prevent the spread of bird flu within the European Union, the EU health chief said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting of EU agriculture ministers, EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said the temporary ban would be proposed to veterinarians representing the European Union’s 25 member states in Brussels today.


Thousands protest U.N. report on Hariri

DAMASCUS — Civil servants and students massed in the streets yesterday to protest a United Nations’ report implicating Syria in the killing of a Lebanese leader, joining in a government-orchestrated campaign to drum up support before a U.N. Security Council meeting.

The United States and Britain were pushing for the council to take a tough stand against Syria at a meeting today, but France said sanctions shouldn’t be voted on until investigators finish looking into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The Syrian Arab News Agency said, “Hundreds of thousands” of people gathered in Damascus and Aleppo to protest the “unjust accusations” made in the report, released last week by chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis.

The report implicated top Syrian security officials in Mr. Hariri’s Feb. 14 assassination, drawing a strenuous denial from President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime.


TV station punished for crash reporting

ABUJA — Nigerian authorities yesterday banned, then reopened, the private television station whose reporters were the first to find the site where an airliner crashed, killing all 117 on board.

Reporters from Lagos-based African Independent Television (AIT) were the first to reveal Sunday that the Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 had gone down a short distance outside Lagos in the village of Lissa. Earlier, several Nigerian officials had incorrectly said the crash site was in Kishi, a remote rural area 245 miles farther north. AIT’s report allowed many reporters traveling to the scene to alter course and head for the true location.

The National Broadcasting Commission accused AIT of breaching reporting standards by videotaping dismembered bodies at the crash site.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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