- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

SOUTH KOREA

Woman nominated for prime minister

SEOUL — South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday nominated a lawmaker and former jailed democracy activist to succeed his prime minister, who quit over a golfing gaffe.

If approved by parliament, Han Myeong-sook will become the first female prime minister of South Korea. She is expected to use her moderate image to patch up a stormy relationship between the government and opposition parties ahead of local elections.

Mrs. Han, 61, would replace Lee Hae-chan, a five-term member of the unicameral National Assembly who quit over criticism for playing golf with businessmen on a public holiday while a railway strike caused transport chaos.

ETHIOPIA

Hominid skull find may fill science gap

ADDIS ABABA — A hominid skull discovered in Ethiopia could fill the gap in the search for the origins of the human race, a scientist said yesterday.

The cranium, found near the city of Gawis, 300 miles southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, is estimated to be 200,000 to 500,000 years old.

The skull appeared “to be intermediate between the earlier Homo erectus and the later Homo sapiens,” Sileshi Semaw, an Ethiopian research scientist at the Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, told a press conference in Addis Ababa.

FRANCE

De Villepin, unions discuss labor law

PARIS — Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and French unions failed to break the deadlock over a youth labor law yesterday at a first meeting called to discuss a crisis that has triggered mass protests and sporadic riots.

Mr. de Villepin said the 90 minutes of talks were “an important first step” and he hoped for more discussions in the coming days but made it clear he would not heed the call of hundreds of thousands of protesters to dump the CPE, or First Job Contract.

President Jacques Chirac, who has prodded his prime minister to renew dialogue with unions, said Mr. de Villepin was ready to take account of protesters’ concerns but condemned rioting by youths, which marred demonstrations in Paris and some provincial cities.

BULGARIA

U.S. allowed to use military bases

SOFIA — Bulgaria will allow the United States to use several military bases in the country, giving American forces a jumping-off point closer to potential hot spots in the Middle East, officials said yesterday.

Ambassador Lyubomir Ivanov, Bulgaria’s chief negotiator, and U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle told reporters the new agreement will undergo a last review by both governments. The deal is expected to be signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits Bulgaria during an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the end of April.

Trying to disperse public fears among Bulgarians that the bases could be used as a springboard for American troops to be sent to missions in crisis regions, Mr. Ivanov said that under the deal his country’s position “will be taken into account in all circumstances.”

BRITAIN

Chinese cockle master guilty of manslaughter

LONDON — The head of a gang of Chinese cockle pickers was found guilty yesterday of the manslaughter of 21 workers who drowned on a wild winter night off northwestern England in February 2004.

Lin Liang Ren had taken them to the scenic but treacherous Morecambe Bay in Lancashire where, at low tide, a rich harvest of the lucrative shellfish can be dug out of the sands.

As the tide turned and began to rush back to shore, they found themselves stranded far from dry land and eventually 23 of them drowned. Two bodies were never found.

LEBANON

Hezbollah TV station shrugs off U.S. freeze

BEIRUT — A Lebanese television station belonging to the anti-Israeli Hezbollah yesterday shrugged off a U.S. freeze on its assets and said it could still beam its programs to U.S. homes.

The U.S. Treasury froze the assets of al-Manar satellite television, al-Nour Radio and their parent company, the Lebanese Media Group, on Thursday, saying they facilitated the activities of Hezbollah, which the State Department considers a terrorist organization.

The Treasury’s action bans transactions between Americans and groups designated as terrorist organizations in addition to freezing any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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