- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2010


ETA seeks to outsource bomb-making

MADRID | Basque separatist organization ETA is seeking to transfer its bomb-making capability to Portugal, Spain’s interior minister said Sunday, after more than a ton of explosives was discovered there last week.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told Spanish news media that the discovery showed it was probable that ETA had chosen “to transfer its logistics setup, its bomb-making factory” to Spain’s neighbor.

His comments come after the discovery last week of more than a ton and a half of explosives in a house in Casal da Avarela, near the central Portuguese city of Obidos, used by suspected ETA militants.

“This factory no longer exists. It’s good news for everyone,” he added.

But he said ETA would find no respite in neighboring countries.

French and Spanish police have stepped up cross-border cooperation against ETA militants, seizing large amounts of explosives in a series of raids across southern France last year.

ETA is blamed for 828 deaths in a 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France, and appears on the European Union and U.S. terrorism blacklists.


Police move to block migrants’ shelter

CALAIS | French police on Sunday blocked dozens of migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, from entering a building rented by an activist group offering them shelter.

About 90 migrants spent the night at the hangar in Calais, which has been at the center of a government campaign to prevent foreigners trying to illegally enter Britain from setting up base there.

About 75 anti-riot police and other reinforcements were deployed late Saturday to help officers blocking the entrance to the shed rented by the group No Border. Police set up a security cordon around the building.

When several dozen migrants left the hangar to get food on Sunday afternoon, anti-riot police prevented them from returning, and only a dozen were left inside the rented premises.

A group called SOS support for undocumented workers rented the building several weeks ago to allow No Border activists to set up the shelter for the migrants, including many Afghans, but also Iraqi Kurds and Iranians.

France in September sent bulldozers and police to shut down an Afghan migrant camp in Calais known as “the jungle,” drawing praise from Britain, which had long demanded a crackdown on cross-Channel illegal migration.


Skier survives hours under avalanche

EVOLENE | A skier was buried beneath an avalanche for 17 hours in the Swiss Alps before being pulled from the snow with only mild hypothermia, police said Sunday.

The 21-year-old man appeared to have survived because he was trapped next to a pocket of air that allowed him to breathe even though he was unable to free himself from the crushing weight of the snow, police in the southern canton of Valais said.

The man, who had been skiing alone on an unmarked slope in the Evolene region about 50 miles east of Geneva, was reported missing by his family at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.


Student visa rules to be tightened

LONDON | Britain is tightening its rules on student visas to prevent people from flouting the rules and working illegally.

The changes, which are effective immediately, won’t stop genuine students from traveling to Britain to study, but will close an avenue that has been exploited, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said Sunday.

Under the new rules, those from outside the European Union who come to Britain for short courses — less than six months — can no longer bring their dependents. Mr. Johnson said the number of hours foreign students will be able to work will also be cut from 20 hours a week to 10, and that a higher standard of English will be required.

Britain’s rules have been criticized for being too lax and open to potential abuse from economic migrants and people with more dangerous intentions. Last year, a Nigerian man accused of trying to destroy a trans-Atlantic airliner in December had his application for a student visa rejected by the British government.


Future prince denies grave illness

STOCKHOLM | The fiance of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, Daniel Westling, on Sunday denied claims he was seriously ill as a result of a kidney transplant.

Mr. Westling, a 36-year-old former gym instructor who underwent the transplant in May, told the daily newspaper Expressen that press reports published Friday and Saturday carried “false information on my health.”

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet claimed Mr. Westling had developed a post-operative infection and was secretly receiving medical treatment, potentially jeopardizing his royal marriage planned for June 19.

Mr. Westling said his recent medical appointments were mere “routine checkups.”

A spokeswoman for the royal palace dismissed the tabloid claims as “absolutely false.”

Mr. Westling met the 32-year-old princess when she began working out at one of his gyms in the capital. He owns two luxury by-invitation-only gyms as well as several high-end fitness centers in Stockholm.


Jazz musician Dankworth dies

John Dankworth, the British jazz composer, saxophonist and band leader, has died. He was 82.

Jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine, who married Mr. Dankworth in 1958 after meeting during an audition for a spot with his band, announced her husband’s death before the finale of an anniversary concert at the Stables, the theater they founded together.

Born in Woodford, Essex in 1927, Mr. Dankworth began his musical career by playing a clarinet bought by his mother.

#8226; From wire dispatches and staff reports

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