- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

AUSTRALIA

Destructive cyclone impedes rescuers

SYDNEY — A powerful tropical cyclone this morning ripped the roofs off buildings and uprooted trees in northeastern Australia, with devastating winds that pinned emergency workers inside despite pleas from terrified residents.

With winds up to 180 mph, Tropical Cyclone Larry smashed into the coastal community of Innisfail, about 60 miles south of Cairns, sending tourists and residents fleeing for higher ground.

A Queensland state police spokeswoman at Innisfail said three persons had been reported injured.

FRANCE

Government backs new youth jobs law

PARIS — The government said yesterday that it stood by its new youth jobs law and played down the threat of further protests by trade unions and students if the law is not withdrawn by tonight.

Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said the government was thinking in terms of dialogue rather than union deadlines and stressed that the law was designed to reduce youth unemployment, which stands at more than 20 percent.

The trade and student unions have threatened to resume mass protests, possibly with a one-day general strike later this week, unless the government withdraws the jobs law.

SERBIA-MONTENEGRO

Milosevic’s daughter denounces funeral

BELGRADE — Slobodan Milosevic’s daughter yesterday denounced the former Serbian president’s funeral, saying his Socialist Party had hijacked it for political ends.

Party officials and supporters made a succession of fiery speeches at a gathering of tens of thousands of people in Belgrade Saturday before Mr. Milosevic’s coffin was taken to the provincial town of Pozarevac for burial in the yard of the family’s home.

No ruling government officials or close relatives of Mr. Milosevic attended the gathering.

ZIMBABWE

Opposition re-elects Tsvangirai as leader

HARARE — The main opposition party re-elected leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday after he called for mass action to increase the pressure for change on President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Delegates of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from all of Zimbabwe’s provinces, plus the party’s youth and women’s wings, endorsed a new term for Mr. Tsvangirai at the end of a two-day congress. There were no challengers.

The congress backed a call by Mr. Tsvangirai on Saturday for a wave of protests against Mr. Mugabe, saying Zimbabwe had become a failed state under his rule “with its economy deteriorating faster than a country at war.”

GERMANY

Falling birthrate alarms politicians

BERLIN — Political leaders vowed over the weekend to push through new policies to encourage Germans to have more children after new data showed the country at the bottom of the world’s birthrate rankings.

Figures issued on Friday estimated that between 680,000 and 690,000 children were born in Germany in 2005, among the lowest birthrates per woman in the European Union and the lowest total since the office began measuring births in 1946.

A separate study published last week by the Berlin Institute for World Population and Global Development put Germany last in the global rankings of births per citizen and predicted that the trend would accelerate.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports


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