- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009


Suspects arrested in secularist plot

ANKARA | Police detained dozens of people Thursday in a new wave of arrests connected with a purported secularist plot to bring down the Islamic-rooted government, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The detentions followed police raids on the headquarters of a secularist metal workers’ trade union and an opposition television station, among other places, Anatolia said.

Police would not immediately confirm the detentions, which threaten to aggravate tensions between secularists and Islamists.

Many see the investigation into the reported plot as the latest battle between the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and secularists who are backed by the military and the judiciary and who consider themselves the protectors of Turkey’s secular system.


Fidel suggests failing health

HAVANA | Fidel Castro suggested Thursday that his health is failing, saying that four years from now he doesn’t expect to be following current events.

In an online column titled “Reflections of Comrade Fidel,” the 82-year-old Cuban leader appeared to be pondering his own mortality, saying Cuban officials “shouldn’t feel bound by my occasional Reflections, my state of health or my death.”

“I have had the rare privilege of observing events over such a long time. I receive information and meditate calmly on those events,” he wrote. “I expect I won’t enjoy that privilege in four years, when [President] Obama’s first presidential term has ended.”

He didn’t elaborate, but suggested he was stepping out of government affairs.


Coalition claims 28 militants killed

KABUL | NATO and Afghan troops killed 22 militants Thursday in air strikes and ground battles near the border with Pakistan, officials said.

Separately, U.S. coalition troops killed six Taliban fighters during a raid on militants blamed for roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, a coalition statement said.

The fighting comes at a time when the U.S., NATO and Afghan troops are trying to turn the tide against the Taliban-led violence, which was at a record high in 2008 with insurgent attacks up 30 percent from the previous year. Militants have turned the lawless tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan into a sanctuary from which they launch attacks.


Customers like WW II-era reprints

BERLIN | A headline proclaiming “Huge Fire in the Reichstag” greeted Germans at newsstands Thursday - and although the story is more than 70 years old, customers are snapping it up.

Dieter Grosse, who runs a newsstand at Berlin’s busy Friedrichstrasse station, said he has sold about 600 copies of Zeitungszeugen - a new publication that reprints Nazi-era newspapers - since it first edition went on sale Jan. 8.

But the project has drawn criticism from Jewish organizations and officials in the German state of Bavaria, who fear the reproductions could be misused by neo-Nazis.

Zeitungszeugen, a word play on the German words for “newspaper” and “witness,” focuses on newspapers from the years the Nazis were in power - from 1933 to 1945.


Lawmaker predicts early elections

REYKJAVIK | A senior figure in Iceland’s main governing party said Thursday that she expects early elections this year, as protesters demanded the government step down because of the country’s severe economic crisis.

Iceland’s banks collapsed in autumn under the weight of huge debts amassed during years of rapid economic growth. The country’s currency has plummeted, while inflation and unemployment are soaring.

In a series of increasingly violent protests, demonstrators have accused the government of leading their once-prosperous island nation of 320,000 people into economic ruin.


U.S. fugitive visits parliament

BELGRADE | A Serbian student wanted in the U.S. in the brutal beating of a schoolmate visited the Serbian parliament Thursday in an apparent show of nationalist defiance.

Miladin Kovacevic, a former basketball player at Binghamton University in upstate New York, faces assault charges in the U.S. stemming from a barroom brawl in May.

Kovacevic, 22, jumped bail and fled to Serbia in June to avoid prosecution. He was arrested in Belgrade in October and released in December when a Belgrade court said he posed no risk of flight.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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