- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010


U.S. military copter crashes; 3 killed

BERLIN | A U.S. military helicopter crashed in western Germany Wednesday, killing all three people aboard, according to a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe.

The aircraft went down about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday in woods near the A67 highway between Viernheim and Lorsch, south of Frankfurt, Hesse state police said.

The helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk, said U.S. Army Europe spokesman Bruce Anderson. The Black Hawk is used for air assault and other military operations. It is normally designed to carry 11 combat-loaded troops.


Decision on Americans expected Thursday

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Haitian authorities will decide Thursday whether to pursue a case against 10 American missionaries accused of illegally trying to take children out of the earthquake-ravaged country, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The missionaries, most of whom belong to an Idaho-based Baptist church, were arrested Friday trying to cross into the Dominican Republic from Haiti with a busload of 33 children they said were orphaned by the Jan. 12 quake.

Five of the missionaries were questioned by a judge Tuesday, and the remaining five gave testimony Wednesday, the prosecutor in the case, Mazarre Fortil, told Reuters news agency.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington that the case of the 10 American missionaries is “unfortunate” and that they should have followed proper procedures, instead of taking matters into their own hands.


Asylum approved for 2 Gitmo Uighurs

GENEVA | The Swiss government on Wednesday approved the resettlement of two Chinese inmates at Guantanamo as part of its commitment to help President Obama’s administration close the detention center.

Beijing had objected to the move, calling the brothers terrorism suspects who should face justice in China.

“We have stable, good relations with China, and we want to keep them that way,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said. Switzerland’s decision to take in the ethnic Uighur brothers was guided by humanitarian principles and should not be interpreted as giving preference to one country over another, she said.

Tensions between China’s majority Han population and Uighurs in the Western region of Xinjiang have flared up recently, and Beijing is highly sensitive to any separatist inclinations.


U.S. moves to name ambassador

DAMASCUS | Washington has submitted to Damascus the name of its proposed new ambassador to Syria, the first in since 2005, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said, in the latest step toward improving ties between the two nations.

Washington withdrew its last ambassador to Damascus in 2005 after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many blamed on Syria. Syria has denied involvement.

The standard practice for diplomatic envoys is to send the name of the nominee to the host government for approval before it is official submitted to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Arabic media have reported that diplomat Robert Ford has been nominated for the job. Mr. Al-Moallem refused to confirm the identity of the nominee.


Three arrested over tainted milk

BEIJING | China has arrested three more people for dealing in milk and milk powder tainted with melamine, a compound used in plastics and fertilizer that caused a massive food-safety scandal last year, Xinhua News Agency said.

The tainted milk powder dates to mid-2008, but was sold to dairy firms and food companies in late 2009, indicating that significant stocks of melamine-laced powder may remain in circulation in China despite a September 2008 crackdown after at least six babies died from ingesting the chemical.

Two managers with Lekang Dairy Co in Shaanxi province in northwest China and a milk-powder dealer were charged with manufacturing and selling food that does not meet hygiene standards, Xinhua cited public security officials as saying. A third manager was on bail with heart disease.


Court rules cash belongs to Duvalier

GENEVA | In an embarrassment to Switzerland’s government, the country’s top court said Wednesday that at least $4.6 million in Swiss bank accounts previously awarded to charities must be returned to the family of Haiti’s ex-dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

The decision was reached on Jan. 12, just hours before the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, killing at least 150,000 people. The ruling is unrelatedd to the disaster, but the amount of money contested could feed more than a million Haitians for two weeks.

The court’s decision was only published Wednesday, prompting the Swiss government to issue an emergency decree to keep the money frozen in a Swiss bank until a new law can be passed allowing it to be donated to aid groups working in Haiti.

Many Haitians accuse Mr. Duvalier and his entourage of robbing millions from public funds before he was ousted in 1986. Mr. Duvalier is thought to be living in exile in France and has always denied wrongdoing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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