- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007

CUBA

Flow of Cubans to U.S. rises

HAVANA — The number of Cubans leaving their communist-run country by sea is steadily increasing and has reached the highest level since a mass exodus in 1994, according to U.S. figures released yesterday.

Fiscal 2007 figures showed that twice as many Cubans arriving in the United States without travel documents are doing so via Mexico instead of crossing the Florida Straits.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted 2,861 Cubans crossing the Florida Straits in smugglers’ speed boats or homemade craft during the fiscal year ending Sunday. But another 4,825 made it to the United States, where by law Cubans are almost automatically allowed to stay if they make it ashore.

SYRIA

Assad downplays Israeli air strike

BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad confirmed yesterday that Israeli warplanes attacked a target inside his country last month, but he said the jets hit only an “unused military building.”

It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Assad explicitly denied during an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. the claims from current and former U.S. officials that the Sept. 6 incident was an attack on either a nuclear or missile facility that Syria operated jointly with North Korea.

At the United Nations, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that “sources in the United States” were fabricating rumors about the target of the attack as a way to help Israel.

UNITED NATIONS

Tourism blamed in climate change

DAVOS, Switzerland — Booming demand for international travel is exacerbating climate change pressures and threatening many coastal, mountain and outdoor destinations, the United Nations said yesterday.

Tourism accounts for 5 percent of global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and the sector’s contribution to global warming is expected to jump as increasing numbers of people travel, particularly by air.

Poorer and island nations where tourism can generate up to 40 percent of economic output were seen at risk from rising world temperatures and resultant environmental shifts.

FRANCE

U.N. authority calls racism ‘alive’

GENEVA — Racism in France is “alive, pernicious, and most of its victims are French citizens from visible minorities, not immigrants,” the independent U.N. authority on minority issues said yesterday.

“Because of the color of their skin, their religion, their surname or their address, these young people in France see no chance of social mobility” Gay J. McDougall said after a 10-day visit to the country.

“People who work hard, play by the rules and believe in the ethos of the Republic, yet find themselves trapped in ghettos, isolated in enclaves where the unemployment rate can reach 40 percent” she said.

YEMEN

Volcano kills 4, threatens more

HODEIDA — A volcano erupted on a Red Sea island yesterday, killing at least four Yemeni soldiers and sparking a major rescue operation for the rest of the garrison.

Survivors who evacuated to the Yemeni port city of Hodeida said the soldiers were killed outright when the volcano erupted on the island of Jabal al-Tair, about 90 miles away. Nine others were missing at sea.

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake was recorded Friday. The 3,937-foot volcano last erupted in the 19th century.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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