- - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BEIJING — Chinese patrol boats confronted Japanese vessels near a disputed East China Sea archipelago early Tuesday, the latest in a series of such encounters after Tokyo’s nationalization of the islands last month.

Four ships from China Marine Surveillance entered waters near the islands at 10 a.m., according to a statement from the State Oceanic Administration, which commands the service.

The ships conducted surveillance on the Japanese Coast Guard vessels in the area, “sternly expressed” China’s sovereignty claim over the islands and “carried out expulsion measures,” the administration said.

Japanese coast guard spokesman Yuji Kito said ships from both countries flashed signs saying they were in their own territorial waters and demanding that the other side leave.


Austerity vote delayed amid warnings of ‘chaos’

ATHENS — Greece’s coalition government will delay a vote on major austerity measures by another week, warning Tuesday that financial “chaos” would erupt if a deal is not reached.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters that the austerity measures, worth $17.4 billion, would be submitted to parliament next week, as the three parties in government continue to disagree about savings demanded by international bailout lenders.

Mr. Stournaras denied local media reports that the bill could be broken up to ease objections by a left-wing junior coalition partner.

Greece’s bailout creditors want the austerity package passed if they are to hand over more loans that Greece needs to avoid bankruptcy.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a conservative, is at odds with the Democratic Left party, a coalition partner that is threatening to vote against the austerity measures unless labor reform provisions are scrapped.

Mr. Samaras formed a coalition with the traditional rival Socialists and the Democratic Left after general elections in June.


Budget cuts may move police from New Scotland Yard

LONDON — It’s not in Scotland, and it’s missing a front yard. But anyone who has read a Sherlock Holmes novel can tell you that Scotland Yard equals London police.

Perhaps no longer.

London’s police force may move from its headquarters, known as New Scotland Yard, as it faces budget cuts of more than $800 million.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey told the mayor’s office Tuesday that it plans to save $10.5 million per year by moving to a smaller building.

The police headquarters and its iconic revolving “New Scotland Yard” sign have been on London’s Victoria Street since 1967. Planned staffing cuts will make the massive central London building an expensive luxury.

Though London’s mayor has the final decision, agreement on the issue between the city’s policing board and the Metropolitan Police makes the move highly likely.


Man in Afghan uniform kills 2 British troops

KABUL — A man wearing an Afghan police uniform fatally shot two British soldiers at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, international military officials said.

The assault appeared to be the latest in a string of insider attacks that have threatened the partnership between international troops and the Afghan forces they are trying to train to take over responsibility for the country’s security.

A statement from the NATO military coalition said only that the assailant was wearing a police uniform, leaving open the possibility that the attacker was a militant posing as a policeman.

The statement did not provide details but said the shooting was being investigated.

The British Ministry of Defense said the attack happened at a checkpoint in Helmand province’s Nahri Sarraj district.


American among 7 charged in U.N. diplomat’s ‘76 slaying

MADRID — A Spanish judge indicted six Chileans and an American in the 1976 kidnapping, torture and murder of Spanish U.N. official Carmelo Soria in Chile.

Judge Pablo Ruz charged the seven with genocide, murder and kidnapping in the National Court indictment released Tuesday. He issued international arrest warrants for them.

The seven worked for the DINA, the Chilean secret police agency under dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. They include former DINA Director Juan Contreras, who is imprisoned in Chile.

The American was named as Michael Townley, a former DINA agent who served five years in a U.S. prison for complicity in the assassination in Washington of former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his assistant in 1976. Mr. Townley later was put in a U.S. witness protection program.


New government ditches resident-only ‘weed pass’

AMSTERDAM — The incoming Dutch government has ditched plans for a national “weed pass” that would have been available only to residents and would have effectively banned tourists from Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes.

However, under a provisional governing pact announced this week, cities can bar foreigners from weed shops.

The pact says that it wants only Dutch residents to have access to marijuana cafes, but leaves enforcement up to cities. Amsterdam opposes a ban, which would hurt tourism.

Some cafe owners said Tuesday that they are satisfied that Dutch weed policy will remain unchanged, but others criticized the lack of clarity.

Marijuana trafficking is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but people can’t be prosecuted for possession of small amounts and the drug is sold openly in designated “coffee shops.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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