- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2009


Orthodox Jews protest parking lot

JERUSALEM | Police turned water cannons on a raucous demonstration by ultra-Orthodox Jews on Saturday, the second consecutive day of protests over the opening of a city parking lot on the Jewish Sabbath when religious Jews are forbidden to drive.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters were on the streets throughout the city Saturday. Police said they made 24 arrests, and one 6-year-old boy was slightly hurt by a stone thrown by protesters. Four officers were lightly hurt as well.

In a major standoff near City Hall, several hundred Orthodox protesters in traditional black suits hurled rocks, garbage and glass bottles at police for several hours.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat first opened the city parking lot on Saturdays three weeks ago at the request of police, who said illegal parking in the nearby Old City was blocking emergency vehicles. The parking lot was kept closed after protests until this Saturday. Spokesman Stephan Miller said the mayor tried to appease ultra-Orthodox concerns by not charging for parking and hiring non-Jews to administer the lot.


U.N. envoy concludes visit

YANGON | U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari concluded his trip to army-ruled Myanmar on Saturday, clearing the way for a proposed visit by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next month.

Mr. Ban has expressed a desire to visit Myanmar and press the generals to ditch the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and free all other political detainees.

Mr. Gambari, visiting the former Burma for the eighth time, returned to Yangon after a one-day trip to the new capital, Naypyidaw, where he met with Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win, according to state radio.


Palestinian hijacker expelled to Syria

ROME | Italian authorities are set to expel to Syria one of the Palestinians who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship and killed an American passenger in 1985, a lawyer said Saturday.

Attorney Gianfranco Pagano said Youssef Magied al-Molqui was to be flown from Palermo, Sicily, to Rome and then on to Damascus on Saturday. In April, al-Molqui was transferred to a holding center for immigrants in Sicily after spending 23 years in prison.

Al-Molqui was a member of the four-man team that hijacked the Achille Lauro off the Egyptian coast. He was convicted of shooting Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish man from New York, and ordering him to be dumped into the sea while in his wheelchair.


President gives up claim to power

NOUAKCHOTT | More than 10 months after being overthrown in a military coup, Mauritania’s first freely elected president has given up his claim to power and officially resigned.

Mauritania has been ruled by a military junta since August, but President Sidi Cheikh Ould Abdallahi has maintained he is the legal president. His resignation just after midnight Saturday came after political wrangling that set the stage for a July 18 vote to choose a new leader.

As part of the deal, an interim government will take over from the junta and organize the ballot. Mr. Abdallahi was elected in 2007, but was toppled by coup leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.


Thaksin supporters amass in Bangkok

BANGKOK | Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attacked the government’s handling of the economy Saturday and told thousands of cheering supporters not to abandon the fight for democracy in one of the largest demonstrations to hit the kingdom in months.

More than 30,000 supporters braved heavy rains in Bangkok to hear the media tycoon, who addressed the crowd via telephone link from what he said was an undisclosed location near the Thai border. The enthusiastic reception reinforced Thaksin’s political strength and indicated the return of the “red shirt” movement that supports him.

The United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship was silenced in April by threats of a government crackdown after days of street clashes and riots that left at least two dead. Protest leaders said they are continuing to call for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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