- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ICELAND

Threat of bigger eruption looms over Europe

REYKJAVIK | All the worldwide chaos that Iceland’s volcano already has created may be just the opening act.

Scientists fear tremors at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano could trigger an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano — creating a worst-case scenario for the airline industry and travelers around the globe.

A Katla eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than its smaller neighbor, which already has brought European air travel to a standstill for five days and promises severe travel delays for days more.

The two volcanoes are side by side in southern Iceland, about 12 miles apart and thought to be connected by a network of magma channels.

Katla, however, is buried under ice 550 yards thick — the massive Myrdalsjokull glacier, one of Iceland’s largest. That means it has more than twice the amount of ice that the current eruption has burned through — threatening a new and possibly longer aviation standstill across Europe.

Katla showed no signs of activity Tuesday, according to scientists who monitor it with seismic sensors, but they were still wary.

AFGHANISTAN

Vice mayor slain during prayers

KABUL | Insurgents killed a vice mayor of Kandahar while he was praying at a mosque, an official said Tuesday, the latest brazen attack on government officials in the volatile region, where troops are preparing for an assault on Taliban forces.

Assailants entered the mosque and shot Azizullah Yarmal while he and dozens of others were praying during services Monday night, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the surrounding province, also called Kandahar.

The assailants escaped, and no arrests were made, Mr. Ayubi said. Mosques typically provide little security, making them vulnerable to insurgent death squads.

Mr. Ayubi said the assassination was among a series of killings of government workers in southern Afghanistan aimed at undermining central authority by terrorizing competent individuals into leaving their posts and punishing those who defy the insurgents.

FRANCE

Sarkozy vows to fight crime in suburbs

BOBIGNY | President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Tuesday to fight “a battle without mercy” against crime in the suburbs of Paris, reviving the law-and-order theme that helped him win office in 2007.

Mr. Sarkozy, whose center-right UMP party is reeling from a drubbing in last month’s regional elections, has revived some of the zero-tolerance talk that served him well during his presidential campaign.

“No district, no neighborhood, no hallway in any building … will escape the authority of the law,” he said in a speech in Bobigny, where the prefecture of the tough district of Seine-Saint-Denis is located.

Paris’ suburbs have been the backdrop for a rash of bus burnings, stone-throwing and drug trafficking by disaffected young people, many of them from an immigrant background. Packed into grimy tower blocks, many face high unemployment, poverty and high school dropout rates.

THAILAND

Protesters back down after live fire threat

BANGKOK | Thailand on Tuesday toughened its stance against anti-government protesters, warning that security forces would use live ammunition and tear gas in any fresh clashes.

Ten days after 25 people were killed and 800 wounded in a failed attempt to dislodge the red-shirted demonstrators, the government said it was determined to end four weeks of rallies but would not give a date for the crackdown.

Confronted by the newly muscular approach and an intimidating military presence in Bangkok’s financial hub, the protesters were forced to cancel plans for a march to the strategic district.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva did not rule out the prospect of martial law being declared to rout the Red Shirts, who have established a massive encampment in the capital’s retail heartland.

BELARUS

Ousted Kyrgyz leader in exile in Minsk

MINSK | Kyrgyzstan’s ousted president was in exile in Belarus on Tuesday, and the interim authorities controlling the Kyrgyz capital warned he would be imprisoned if he tried to return to the Central Asian country.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who fled Kyrgyzstan after a bloody uprising on April 7, had taken refuge last week in neighboring Kazakhstan but then left Monday for a destination not announced.

Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that he had arranged for Mr. Bakiyev to come to the Belarusian capital. His presence, however, could exacerbate Belarus’ tensions with the West as well as neighboring Russia.

“President Bakiyev and his family are in Minsk under the protection of our state and me personally,” Mr. Lukashenko said in televised remarks to parliament, adding that his guests were undergoing medical checkups.

Mr. Lukashenko also said he had ordered food deliveries to Kyrgyzstan, where widespread poverty contributes to political tensions.

AUSTRIA

Legislation takes aim at terror camp trainees

VIENNA | Austria’s government Tuesday approved an anti-terrorism amendment that calls for jail terms for “preachers of hate” and people who attend a foreign terror training camp.

According to the new draft, which was put forward by Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner and must still be approved by parliament, a person attending a terror camp abroad could face up to five years in prison, while an instructor could be sentenced to up to 10 years.

The controversial amendment also targets radical preachers, calling for up to two years in jail for those found guilty of condoning or inciting terrorist acts.

The national security and counterterrorism bureau (BVT) noted Tuesday that there was “a growing trend” of Austrians attending foreign terror camps.

SOUTH AFRICA

Ruling party to discipline youth leader

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s ruling party said Tuesday the leader of its youth wing, Julius Malema, will face disciplinary proceedings over recent remarks that have stoked racial tensions.

“There has been a notice” informing Mr. Malema of the proceedings, said Thandi Modise, deputy secretary general of the African National Congress.

“There have been no formal charges given because the disciplinary committee … is still in motion,” she told a press conference.

VENEZUELA

Chavez hosts summit for Latin American allies

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez gathered his closest Latin American allies to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence movement — denouncing U.S. meddling while hurling harsh words at the leading presidential candidate in neighboring Colombia.

Raul Castro of Cuba, Evo Morales of Bolivia and other leaders accompanied Mr. Chavez Monday as he presided over a parade that included troops, Amazonian Indians carrying bows and arrows, flag-waving supporters and civilians who have joined government militias.

Wearing the trademark red beret of his army paratrooper years, Mr. Chavez reiterated his accusations of U.S. government meddling in Latin America while praising Venezuela’s move toward “democratic socialism.”

At a summit later of his left-leaning Bolivarian political bloc — which is aimed at boosting Latin American integration and countering U.S. influence — Mr. Chavez complained about the leading candidate to succeed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Flanked by his allies, Mr. Chavez warned that Colombia would become a serious threat to its neighbors if former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos wins the presidential election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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