- - Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Chernobyl conference falls short of goal

KIEV | A donors conference seeking $1.1 billion to clean up the Chernobyl disaster site fell well short of its goal Tuesday, but officials remained optimistic that money will be found to make the world’s worst nuclear accident site environmentally safe.

Pledges from nations and organizations at the conference totaled about $785 million, along with $41 million from Ukraine.

The money is being sought to complete the construction of a gargantuan long-term shelter to cover the nuclear reactor that exploded April 26, 1986, and to build a facility to store waste from the plant’s three other decommissioned reactors.

Japan had been one of the top donors in previous years, contributing $103 million in total. But this year, after last month’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis, Japan held back from pledging money.


Kurds angry after candidates barred from election

ANKARA | Armed with firebombs and slings, Kurdish protesters clashed with Turkish police in two cities Tuesday, and the main Kurdish party threatened to boycott the upcoming election because of a decision to bar some Kurdish candidates.

The ruling by the High Election Board was a serious blow to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, which is backing independent candidates in the June 12 national election in order to overcome a 10 percent threshold for political parties to enter the 550-seat Parliament.

The election board’s decision outraged party members and even drew criticism from Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin from the ruling Justice and Development Party.

“It is a decision that has weakened the mission of Parliament,” Mr. Sahin said. “It is not a decision that can be accepted by the country’s democratic conscience.”


Court drops case at heart of protests

TUNIS | A Tunisian court dropped charges Tuesday against a police officer whose dispute with a fruit vendor sparked a chain of events that unleashed uprisings around the Arab world.

The state news agency TAP said the case against Fedia Hamdi was closed after the vendor’s family withdrew its original complaint. The family said it acted in a gesture of tolerance and an effort to heal wounds suffered in Tunisia’s upheaval of recent months.

The case was at the heart of what has become a season of protests against autocratic leaders stretching across Arab lands from Yemen to Morocco.

The police officer was accused of slapping vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in December in the provincial Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. Mr. Bouazizi’s wares were confiscated on the ground that he didn’t have a permit.

Humiliated, Mr. Bouazizi doused himself with gasoline and set himself ablaze in front of the governor’s office on Dec. 17. He died Jan. 5 of burns he suffered in the protest.


Security teams prepare for royal wedding

LONDON | British police have rejected a request by a small band of radical Islamists to stage a protest during the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Scotland Yard said Tuesday.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said the force had rejected a request by Muslims Against Crusades to demonstrate outside Westminster Abbey during the April 29 wedding.

Commissioner Owens said “ongoing discussions” were taking place about whether the group would be allowed to hold a protest nearby.

A far-right group had said it planned to hold a shadow protest if the Muslim group’s application was successful. Police said it was still in negotiations with the far-right English Defense League.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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