- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

BRITAIN

Financing scandal closes in on Blair

LONDON — A dramatic inquiry into the financing of Britain’s main political parties closed in on Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday as police questioned a key ally for a second day.

Michael Levy, chief fundraiser of the governing Labor Party, is among 48 persons who have been interviewed by detectives since the Metropolitan Police initiated the “cash for honors” investigation in March.

Detectives are exploring charges that wealthy persons were nominated for seats in the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of Britain’s bicameral Parliament, after contributing to Labor’s election war chest last year.

VATICAN

Married priest worries Catholic Church

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican showed concern yesterday over a developing scandal set off by an African archbishop after he announced he was championing the cause of married priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican said it was still seeking precise information a day after Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who previously faced a threat of excommunication, showed up at a press conference to announce his new mission.

“I feel it is time for the church to reconcile with married priests,” Archbishop Milingo said earlier this week.

The Vatican said yesterday that if the statements attributed to him about priestly celibacy were true “there would be no choice but to condemn them,” given the well-known church rules.

JAPAN

Deployment planned for missile interceptors

TOKYO — Japan and the United States, concerned about North Korea’s missile capabilities, plan to deploy advanced missile interceptors as early as this summer at a U.S. base in Japan, Kyodo news service said yesterday.

A total of 24 launching pads for the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air interceptors will be installed at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, southern Japan. It is the first deployment of such a weapons system at a U.S. base in Japan, the report said, citing Japanese government sources.

The PAC-3s, the U.S. military’s state-of-the-art, ground-based missile interceptors, are designed to shoot down incoming missiles before they reach their targets.

NIGERIA

Twin explosions hit offshore oil fields

YENAGOA — Twin explosions hit oil installations belonging to an Italian oil company in Nigeria’s volatile southeastern delta region, Nigerian officials said yesterday.

Elsewhere, militants attacked a group of 11 boats carrying supplies to Chevron’s offshore oil fields Wednesday, killing four navy sailors who were escorting the convoy, Brig. Gen. Alfred Ilogho said yesterday.

The militants also seized 40 persons and held them overnight. All staff and the 11 boats were released early yesterday, said Chevron spokesman Deji Haastrup.

SOUTH AFRICA

Tea with Mandela auctioned on EBay

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s Nelson Mandela has been everywhere from apartheid prisons to Buckingham Palace. Now the anti-apartheid icon is taking the leap into cyberspace and auctioning himself off on EBay.

Beginning in November, bidders will vie for the chance to have tea with Mr. Mandela, with proceeds going to benefit the Walter Sisulu Pediatric Cardiac Center for Africa in Johannesburg.

The Mandela EBay item was announced yesterday as the South African statesman — who turns 88 Tuesday — toured the facility with former President Bill Clinton.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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