- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Europe Union bans seal products

BRUSSELS | European Union nations gave their final approval Monday to a ban on imports of seal products in an effort to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt.

A majority of the EU’s 27 member states see the way Canada conducts its hunt, the world’s largest, as inhumane.

The ministers said in a statement the ban would be implemented in all EU countries over the next nine months and will be in place before the annual seal hunt off Canada’s eastern coast.

Canada’s East Coast seal hunt is the largest in the world, killing an average of 300,000 harp seals annually. The EU bill targeted the Canadian hunt because of the size of the annual cull and the way seals are killed - either clubbed or shot with rifles. In the past, they also have been killed with spiked clubs, or hakapiks.


Anti-tank weapons seized from guerrillas

BOGOTA | Colombia has seized anti-tank weapons from FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels that were purchased by Venezuela in Europe, Vice President Francisco Santos said Monday.

“In several operations in which we have recovered weapons from the FARC we’ve found powerful ammunition (and) powerful equipment including anti-tank weapons which a European country sold to Venezuela and which turned up in the hands of the FARC,” the vice president told Caracol radio, without specifying the European country.


Term-limit bill unlikely to pass

BOGOTA | Colombian lawmakers who had supported a constitutional change to allow popular President Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term in 2010 concede the bill is not likely to pass.

Mr. Uribe, popular for his crackdown on leftist rebels, has not said whether he wants to run again but his government has lobbied strongly for the measure.

Politicians from across the political spectrum say the proposed referendum on whether Mr. Uribe should be allowed to run is unlikely to be held after lawmakers from outside the Uribe re-election camp were elected this month to key House and Senate leadership positions.


News ticker off at U.S. outpost

HAVANA | The United States has turned off a news ticker at its diplomatic mission in Havana that had long irritated the Cuban government, in another sign of efforts to improve relations with Havana, Western diplomats said.

The ticker, which streamed news, political statements and messages blaming Cuba’s problems on the country’s communist system and socialist economy, had infuriated former President Fidel Castro when it was turned on in January 2006 at a moment of high political tension with Washington. President Raul Castro took over from ailing elder brother Fidel last year.

Throughout most of July, the five-foot-high news streamer which ran across 25 windows on the fifth floor of the U.S. Interests Section, has been turned off.

Western diplomats in Havana, who asked not to be identified, said there were no plans for its crimson letters to be switched on again any time soon. Neither U.S. diplomats nor Cuban officials were immediately available for comment.


Congress sets debate on coup

TEGUCIGALPA | The Honduran Congress was to debate later Monday a mediator’s proposal to break the political stalemate gripping the country and allow the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

The San Jose Accord, proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, calls for the toppled president to be restored to power but with various limits.

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti and his government, which came to power after Mr. Zelaya’s ouster on June 28 have welcomed some parts of the plan but rejected the return of Mr. Zelaya as president.

The unicameral legislature has been considering the proposal since Thursday. The latest legislative session was convened while the cowboy-hatted ousted president remained in Nicaragua, just across the border with Honduras, planning to return.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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