- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008


Foreign intervention urged for Zimbabwe

NAIROBI | Foreign troops should prepare to intervene in Zimbabwe to end a worsening humanitarian crisis and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should be investigated for crimes against humanity, the Kenyan prime minister said Sunday.

Raila Odinga, in the latest sign of growing international frustration over Zimbabwe’s slide into chaos, urged the African Union to call an emergency meeting to authorize sending troops into Zimbabwe.

“If no troops are available, then the AU must allow the U.N. to send its forces into Zimbabwe with immediate effect, to take over control of the country and ensure urgent humanitarian assistance to the people dying of cholera,” he said.

More than 500 Zimbabweans are officially reported to have died of the disease since an outbreak in August, but health officials fear the toll may be much higher. They warn that deaths could spiral into the thousands because of the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, the scarcity of food and the oncoming rainy season, which may help spread infections.

Rice backs Clinton for top State post

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will do a great job as Barack Obama’s top diplomat.

Miss Rice said Mrs. Clinton is intelligent, loves the United States and has faith in the country’s values. Miss Rice said Mr. Obama has made a fine choice in picking the next secretary of state.

Miss Rice said diplomacy has changed a great deal and that much of it is done in the field rather than the halls of government. Miss Rice also said it’s a challenge to manage the tens of thousands of people worldwide who work for the State Department.

She made her comments on ABC’s “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday.”


Rampaging rioters put police on notice

ATHENS | Rioters rampaged through Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, hurling Molotov cocktails, burning stores and blocking city streets with flaming barricades after protests against the fatal police shooting of a teenager erupted into chaos.

Youths wearing hoods smashed storefronts and cars in Athens. Riot police responded with tear gas while the fire department rushed to extinguish blazes. Several bank branches and stores and at least one building were on fire on a major street leading to the capital’s police headquarters. Clashes also broke out near parliament.

Streets quickly emptied as word of the violence spread. Local media reported that several people sought treatment for breathing problems.

Violence often breaks out during demonstrations in Greece between riot police and anarchists, who attack banks, high-end shops, diplomatic vehicles and foreign car dealerships in late-night firebombings.

The shooting of the 16-year-old boy that set off the first riots took place Saturday night in Exarchia, a downtown Athens district of bars, music clubs and restaurants that is seen as the anarchists’ home base.


Dalai Lama meeting raises French tensions

BEIJING | China protested strongly to France on Sunday over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, calling it a “rude intervention” into Chinese affairs.

Mr. Sarkozy met with the Tibetan spiritual leader Saturday privately in Gdansk, Poland, during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of former Polish President Lech Walesa’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama also has received the prize.

Although China routinely lodges protests when world leaders meet with the Dalai Lama, Sunday’s complaint - reported by the official Xinhua news agency - comes as China hardens its line toward the Himalayan region.

China’s relations with the French have been especially testy over the issue of Tibet since April, when pro-Tibetan activists protested in the streets of Paris as the Olympic flame passed through the city on its world tour. Some Chinese called for boycotts of French products afterward.


Political parties to keep fighting

BANGKOK | Thailand’s main opposition party called Sunday for an emergency parliament session to prove its majority in a bid to form the next government and end months of political chaos, as loyalists of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra struggled to stay in power.

A new administration should bring some semblance of stability to this Southeast Asian nation, which has been gripped by political uncertainty since August when protesters - driven by a single-minded hatred for Mr. Thaksin and his allies - seized the prime minister’s office and later overran the capital’s two airports in a bid to topple government.

The opposition Democrat Party said it will ask the speaker of parliament Monday to call an extraordinary session of the lower house so that it can prove it has a majority. Mr. Thaksin’s allies and the opposition say they have enough support to form a government.

Thailand’s political parties are seeking to fill a power vacuum created after a court last week dissolved the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party and two other parties in the ruling coalition for electoral fraud.

The court also banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and 24 other lawmakers from politics for five years.


Somali pirates extend their reach

KUALA LUMPUR | Somali pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked a Dutch-operated container ship off the coast of Tanzania but failed to hijack the vessel, a maritime official said Sunday.

The attack Saturday shows the pirates are becoming bolder and extending their reach farther from their base in Somalia, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

Eight pirates in two speedboats chased and opened fire at the ship about 520 miles east of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, starting a fire on the vessel that was quickly doused by the crew, he said.

The ship, which has 19 crew members, flies a Hong Kong flag but is operated out of the Netherlands, he said.


Navy tests sea-to-sea rocket

TEHRAN | Iran’s state radio says the country’s navy has test-fired a sea-to-sea missile during a six-day naval maneuver in the Sea of Oman.

Sunday’s report quotes the maneuver’s spokesman, Adm. Ghasem Rostamabadi. He said the midrange missile was launched from a battleship late Saturday in the waters off the port town of Chabahar near the Iran-Pakistan border.

The report did not elaborate on the range or give other details about the missile, dubbed Nasr-2 or Victory-2.

Iran said last week that it launched the large-scale naval maneuver that was to cover 50,000 square miles of Iranian territorial waters and involve about 60 warships.

Iran regularly holds war games in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.


Beauty queen touts racial diversity

PARIS | The new Miss France, born to a black mother and white French father, said Sunday that she wants to advertise her country’s diversity on the world stage.

Chloe Mortaud is not the first nonwhite winner of the beauty pageant, but she is joining a growing chorus of French public figures breaking traditions by speaking openly about race.

France has championed a colorblind standard that sees all citizens as just French, regardless of ethnic origins - an ideal meant to make everyone feel equal. But it has failed to snuff out racism, particularly against immigrants from former French colonies in Africa. Discrimination in part fed riots in 2005 by largely minority youths in French housing projects.

Days after Barack Obama’s presidential win in the U.S. last month, leading French figures published a manifesto urging affirmative action-style policies to expand opportunities for millions of blacks, Arabs and other minorities.

Miss Mortaud, a dual French-American citizen, said her mother was born in Mississippi but grew up in California and her father’s heritage is ethnic French “as far back as we could trace the family tree.”


Toxin discovery prompts pork recall

DUBLIN | Ireland launched an intensive investigation Sunday to establish the source of a toxic substance that forced the recall of all Irish pork products, the country’s food authorities said.

The Irish government ordered the recall Saturday of all pork produced in the Republic of Ireland after dioxins were discovered in slaughtered pigs thought to have eaten contaminated feed.

The recall included products sold in Ireland and abroad.

Contaminated Irish pork was found in France and Belgium, but the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said the problem was restricted to “Irish pigmeat related to an Irish feedstuff.”

The European Commission said it was monitoring the situation.

The Irish food safety authority said it was almost certain that the source of the contamination was oil, which mistakenly found its way into pig feed made at an Irish factory.


Indigenous Canadians raise voice on climate

POZNAN | Chief Bill Erasmus of the Dene nation in northern Canada brought a stark warning about climate change: The once abundant herds of caribou are dwindling, rivers are running lower and the ice is too thin for hunting.

Chief Erasmus raised his concerns in recent days on the sidelines of a U.N. conference, seeking to ensure that North America’s indigenous peoples are not left out in the cold when it comes to any negotiations on addressing climate change.

Chief Erasmus, the 54-year-old elected leader of 30,000 American Indians in Canada, and representatives of other indigenous peoples met with the United Nations’ top climate official, Yvo de Boer, and have lobbied national delegations to recognize them as an “expert group” that can participate in the talks like other nongovernmental organizations.

Nearly 11,000 national and environmental delegates from 190 countries are negotiating a treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which regulates emissions of carbon dioxide that many scientists blame for global warming. The protocol expires in 2012.


FBI investigates threats to prosecutor

BELGRADE | Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor’s office said the FBI is investigating several U.S. citizens of Serb origin suspected of sending death threats to the prosecutor.

Spokesman Bruno Vekaric said Sunday that several people in the United States have been questioned in connection with the investigation. He added that the “basic circle” of people suspected of sending the threats has been identified.

Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic is in charge of finding Gen. Ratko Mladic and other Serbs sought by a U.N. war crimes court.

He has received more than 40 threatening letters, many of which had been mailed from U.S. cities with large Serb communities, such as Chicago.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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