- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

TURKEY

Hookah ban angers smokers

ANKARA | Patrons of a usually smoke-filled hookah bar stepped outside to light cigarettes for their nicotine fix Sunday as Turkey extended a ban on indoor public smoking to bars, restaurants and coffeehouses.

The ban in this nation of smokers came into effect at midnight Saturday despite protests from bar and coffeehouse owners who fear it will ruin businesses that have already been hit by the economic crisis.

“The country woke up this morning having carried out a cigarette revolution,” an editorial in the newspaper Radikal read.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-oriented government widened a ban that already covered offices, public transport and shopping malls to now include bars and restaurants, intent on reducing smoking rates and the effects of secondhand smoke. The government says the previous prohibitions on indoor smoking have already cut smoking rates by 7 percent.

UKRAINE

NATO application on Biden agenda

KIEV | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is visiting Georgia and Ukraine starting Monday, meeting leaders eager for further reassurance that Washington still supports their joining NATO and that efforts to warm relations with Russia won’t come at their expense.

The Kremlin, having seen several former communist countries of Eastern Europe enter the Western alliance, strongly opposes more of its own former republics joining. And although the Obama administration has insisted nothing has changed regarding the Georgian and Ukrainian candidacies, there’s a widespread perception in the former Soviet bloc that the U.S. has opted to move more slowly.

On Thursday, an open letter whose signatories included such icons of the battle against Soviet domination as Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel urged the Obama administration not to sacrifice Russia’s smaller neighbors for better relations with Moscow.

Ukraine and Georgia have drawn some comfort from Mr. Obama’s explicit warning to Russia, during this month’s Moscow summit, to respect its neighbors’ borders. Mr. Biden’s visit comes 11 months after Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over two breakaway Georgian regions.

ITALY

Pope blesses with arm in cast

ROMANO CANAVESE | A beaming Pope Benedict XVI raised his cast-encased right arm to bless thousands of faithful worshippers Sunday during his first public appearance since surgery to set a wrist fractured in a fall.

The 82-year-old pope showed great agility two days after the accident. He held out his left hand for the faithful to kiss and to greet well-wishers, but raised his immobilized right arm to bless the crowd in this small Piedmontese town’s main square. He made the sign of the cross with ease.

“As you can see because of my accident, my mobility is a bit limited,” Benedict told about 2,000 gathered in the main square at the start of his blessing. “But the presence of my heart is full.”

He also thanked the doctors and medical staff at the Aosta hospital, where his wrist was reset on Friday, for their “diligence, competence and friendship,” and also expressed thanks for all the prayers offered for his recovery.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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