- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Kurdish party offices to be shut down

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government said yesterday it will shut down all offices belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) around the country.

A government spokesman said the decision was made during a Cabinet meeting because “Iraq wants good relations with Turkey and all neighboring countries.”

The PKK has recently been blamed or has taken responsibility for a series of attacks carried out in Turkey.


U.S. gets most requests for asylum

GENEVA — The United States has overtaken France as the country with the highest number of asylum applications, the U.N. refugee agency said yesterday.

Some 25,500 people filed asylum requests in the U.S. during the first half of 2006, which represents one-fifth of the total number of applications in industrialized countries, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in its quarterly report on asylum figures. The figures were only for asylum requests, not for approvals.

France had the most applications last year, but its asylum requests dropped by 41 percent from the same period in 2005, to 16,400. The U.S. tally for the first half of 2006 is stable compared with the period last year, the U.N. agency said.

The number of people seeking asylum in Western nations fell again in the first half of this year to 134,000, near a 20-year low, the United Nations reported yesterday.


Scientists discover new marine species

BANGKOK — Scientists combing through undersea fauna off Indonesia’s Papua province say they have discovered dozens of new species, including the epaulette shark that walks on its fins and a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis.

The team from U.S.-based Conservation International also warned that the area — known as Bird’s Head Seascape — is under danger from fishermen who use dynamite and cyanide to net their catches and called on Indonesia’s government to do more to protect it.

Mark Erdmann, a senior adviser of Conservation International who led two surveys to the area earlier this year, says his team discovered 52 new species, including 24 of fish, 20 of coral and eight of shrimp.


Researchers look at pre-WWII archives

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican opened part of its secret archives Monday to let historians review millions of diplomatic letters, private correspondence and other church documents to gain insight into how the Holy See dealt with the growing persecution of Jews before World War II.

Researchers said it could take months or years to study the contents of some 30,000 bundles of documents from the 1922-39 papacy of Pius XI, a span when the rise of Nazism, fascism and Soviet-bloc communism gripped Europe.

The opening is part of the Vatican’s effort to defend Pius’ successor, the wartime Pope Pius XII, against claims he did not do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust during the war.


Rebels still at large; deadline extended

RI-KWANGBA, Sudan — The leaders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army were still at large despite an agreement with the Ugandan government to assemble at two camps by yesterday, but the government said they would be given more time.

More than 800 rebels have arrived at the two camps set up in uninhabited areas of southern Sudan, Sudanese officials said. Under the truce, the rebels will be protected and monitored while a broader peace deal is negotiated.

Five LRA leaders, including Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti, are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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