- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 28, 2010


New president sworn in; Zelaya flies into exile

TEGUCIGALPA | Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya left his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy and flew into exile Wednesday, ending months of turmoil and his thwarted quest to be restored to power after a June 28 coup that drew international condemnation.

The leftist leader drove past soldiers guarding the diplomatic compound in a 20-car caravan and headed for the airport accompanied by President Porfirio Lobo, said Hilda Cruz, an assistant of Mr. Zelaya’s wife.

Mr. Zelaya was going to the Dominican Republic as a private citizen under a deal signed by Mr. Lobo and the Caribbean country’s President Leonel Fernandez, who flew to Honduras to accompany the former president. About 6,000 supporters gathered outside the airport yelled “Mel, our friend, the people are with you!” as his plane took off.

Mr. Lobo, 61, who was sworn into office hours earlier, had said his first task as president would be providing Mr. Zelaya a safe passage out of the country.

Mr. Zelaya, who was ousted in a dispute over changing the Honduran Constitution, insisted he was still president up until the moment his four-year constitutional term officially ended Wednesday.

Mr. Zelaya left with his wife, two children and an aide after four months holed up in the embassy. The couple had their hair done by a stylist, packed five suitcases and said they were taking Mr. Zelaya’s guitar and Christmas cards from supporters.


4 more sentenced to death in riots

BEIJING | China sentenced four more people to death for involvement in rioting last year in the restive far-western region of Xinjiang, the country’s worst ethnic violence in decades, an official said Wednesday.

The July 5 violence began as Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group, protested the deaths of Uighur factory workers in an earlier brawl in southern China and then clashed with police in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi. The crowd scattered throughout the city, attacking majority Han Chinese and burning cars. Nearly 200 people, mostly Hans, were killed, according to the government. Two days later, Uighurs were targeted in revenge attacks.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi handed down death sentences Monday to four people for “extremely serious crimes” during the riots, an Urumqi government official said.

Another person was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve — a penalty usually commuted to life in prison — while eight others were given sentences of up to life imprisonment. Based on their names, all those given death sentences appeared to be Uighurs.

The verdicts bring the number of people who have been sentenced to death for involvement in the riots to about two dozen, including nine who have already been executed.


Al Qaeda group claims Baghdad hotel blasts

BAGHDAD | An al Qaeda front group in Iraq claimed Wednesday it carried out the deadly bombings against Baghdad hotels earlier this week, boasting how its suicide bombers could breach the extensive Iraqi security, and that even deadlier attacks were to come.

The same group, the Islamic State of Iraq, has claimed responsibility for three previous waves of coordinated bombings in Baghdad going back to August. The attacks have hit government offices or high-profile sites in the Iraqi capital.

At least 41 people were killed in the triple suicide blasts on Monday that targeted three hotels favored by Western journalists and security contractors.


Falun Gong group from U.S. denied visa

HONG KONG | The Falun Gong religious group, which is banned in China, on Wednesday accused Beijing of forcing a dance troupe linked to the sect to cancel a Hong Kong performance tour by denying visas to key members.

Seven production crew members of the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts troupe were denied visas even though their applications were in order, Japanese Falun Gong member Kanae Yamakawa said in Tokyo.

The dance company said it had to cancel seven sold-out shows between Wednesday and Jan. 31 at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Lyric Theater after authorities denied the seven visas last week.

China outlawed Falun Gong, a religious sect loosely based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies, in 1999 as “an evil cult.”


Khamenei predicts Israel’s destruction

TEHRAN | Iran’s supreme leader predicted the destruction of Israel in comments posted on his Web site Wednesday, in some of his strongest remarks in years about the Jewish state.

In the past, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that must be wiped from the map, but the new comments mark the first time in years he has openly speculated about Israel’s demise.

“Definitely, the day will come when nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist regime,” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying. “How soon or late [Israel’s demise] will happen depends on how Islamic countries and Muslim nations approach the issue.”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks, made during a meeting with the Mauritanian president Tuesday, come as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi-run Auschwitz death camp.

Iran does not recognize Israel, and current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel’s destruction.


Lawmaker sees difficulty for U.S. base plan

TOKYO | Japan would have great difficulty fulfilling a deal on a U.S. Marine base at the center of a feud with Washington after it was effectively rejected in a local election, a senior ruling party lawmaker and defense official said.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was left with diminishing room to maneuver in the thorny dispute over the relocation of the Futenma base on the southern island of Okinawa after a candidate opposed to the existing plan won a local mayoral election Sunday.

Forcing the current Futenma base plan through parliament would be close to impossible, said Akihisa Nagashima, a senior party lawmaker and parliamentary secretary for defense.

Under a 2006 deal with Washington, the base was to be relocated from the crowded city of Ginowan to Nago in a less-crowded part of the island.


Man hits chief justice with sneaker

JERUSALEM | An Israeli man hurled his sneakers at Israel’s Supreme Court chief justice Wednesday during a hearing on medical marijuana, hitting her between the eyes, breaking her glasses and knocking her off her chair.

Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, who is in her late 60s, was not seriously hurt, and the incident appeared to be an isolated one, though there have been rising numbers of threats against the judiciary.

A court spokeswoman identified the assailant as Pinchas Cohen, 52. She said his motive was unclear, but the attack did not appear linked to the hearing, where residents of a northern town were asking the court to shut down an authorized producer of medical marijuana.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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