- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008


Floods hit Basque region

GETXO | Heavy rains have unleashed floods in suburbs surrounding the Basque region’s main city of Bilbao, and rescuers were trying to reach several people trapped in their homes and cars, officials said Sunday.

Water levels in some parts of the seaside resort suburb of Getxo has reached the top of cars.

The government sent police divers to help rescue several people trapped in flooded houses or cars, regional government spokeswoman Maria de Yermo Urquijo said at a news conference in Bilbao. She did not say how many people were stuck.

About 64 people have been evacuated, Getxo Mayor Imanol Landa said. Residents were using small boats to get around the town. Roads were closed and many train and subway services were halted, Basque broadcaster ETB said.


Scientists seek climate-change pact

BONN | Climate-change experts from around the world will get their first chance this week to discuss the nuts and bolts of a new global warming agreement designed to take effect after 2012.

The meeting builds on a landmark accord reached in December on the Indonesian island of Bali which, for the first time, held out the promise that the United States, China and India will join a coordinated effort to control carbon emissions blamed by many scientists for the unnatural heating of the Earth.

The two-week conference, drawing about 2,000 delegates from more than 160 countries, begins Monday.

The Bali conference agreed to conclude a new climate change treaty by December 2009. Another conference four months later in Bangkok adopted a negotiating timetable.

In Bonn, “the real work is now only beginning,” says Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ top climate-change official.


Officials ponder plain cigarette packs

LONDON | Britain’s Department of Health has proposed banning tobacco companies from putting any logos or branding on cigarette packs.

One proposal for preventing young people from smoking is to sell cigarettes in plain black-and-white boxes with nothing on them but health warnings.

The British government is also considering banning cigarette vending machines. Another idea is to outlaw the sale of smaller, cheaper packs of 10 cigarettes available in Britain.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said Saturday that the government’s priority is to protect children from smoking by taking away the temptation.


Police block gay rights rally

MOSCOW | Russian gay rights activists held a small, scattered protest in Moscow on Sunday, flouting repeated refusals from city authorities for permission to hold parades or demonstrations.

Activists repeatedly have tried to hold parades and rallies in the Russian capital to call attention to gay rights. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called homosexuality “satanic,” has rejected all requests to hold them.

About three dozen protesters gathered outside the famed Tchaikovsky music conservatory Sunday, chanting “No to Homophobia” and other slogans, organizer Nikolai Alexeyev told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, hundreds of riot police, journalists and onlookers thronged a square in front of Moscow’s City Hall in anticipation of a larger, promised protest that never materialized. Several people brandished religious icons and crosses and at least one gay rights supporter was assaulted while uniformed police officers stood by and watched.

For the past two years, gay activists have sought permission to publicly mark the date in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalized.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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