- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2008

State drops ban on HIV diplomats

Under pressure from a lawsuit, the State Department is changing rules that had disqualified HIV-positive people from becoming U.S. diplomats.

Effective yesterday, the department removed HIV from a list of medical conditions that automatically prevent foreign service candidates from meeting an employment requirement that they be able to work anywhere in the world.

The change was made after consultation with medical experts and in response to a lawsuit filed by an HIV-positive man who was denied entry into the foreign service despite being otherwise qualified, the department said.

Prospective diplomats with HIV will now be considered for the foreign service on a case-by-case basis, along with those with other designated ailments like cancer to determine whether they meet the “worldwide availability” standard, it said.


At least 4 dissidents to be freed

HAVANA — Cuban officials are preparing to release at least four political prisoners who will be sent to Spain, according to a veteran human rights activist and Spanish officials.

Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, citing family members of the four and other prisoners, identified those being released as Pedro Pablo Alvarez Ramos, Omar Pernet Hernandez, Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo and Alejandro Gonzalez Raga.

They were among 75 dissidents arrested in a government crackdown on the opposition in 2003. With new releases, 20 of the 75 will have been freed, leaving 55 behind bars.


Bomb kills man near security ministry

MEXICO CITY — A bomb exploded yesterday in Mexico City near the security ministry headquarters, killing one man, police said.

Police Chief Joel Ortega said a device planted near the ministry building in the city center appeared to have set off two explosions. A woman and young man were severely hurt. The explosion broke windows in the immediate vicinity and shook high-rise buildings blocks away along the capital’s tony Reforma Avenue.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed the army in a year-old battle with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. Mexico was also hit last year by a series of nonfatal bomb attacks by a left-wing guerrilla group on oil installations.


Islamic Jihad leader killed in blast

GAZA CITY — A powerful blast rocked the house of a senior Islamic Jihad activist yesterday, killing him, his wife and daughter, along with three neighbors, medics and an Islamic Jihad spokesman said.

Islamic Jihad claimed Israeli warplanes struck the home of Ayman Atallah Fayed. Israel denies it launched an air strike on the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza where Mr. Fayed lived.


Canada extradites Nazi war criminal

ROME — An 83-year-old former SS prison guard who was sentenced to life in jail in Italy for Nazi war crimes was extradited by Canada to Rome yesterday, officials said.

Canadian authorities handed Michael Seifert over to Italian police in Toronto and a special military flight departed late yesterday afternoon.

Seifert, known as the “Beast of Bolzano,” was convicted in absentia in 2000 by a military tribunal in Verona on nine counts of murder — committed while he was an SS guard at a prison transit camp in Bolzano, northern Italy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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