Thursday, December 9, 2004


Annan receives standing ovation

NEW YORK — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan received an unusual standing ovation in the 191-nation General Assembly yesterday after calls for his resignation from conservative U.S. lawmakers.

Some Republicans in Congress have accused Mr. Annan of presiding over corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, administered by the United Nations but supervised by the 15-nation Security Council.

“I interpret this long ovation as an acknowledgment of your actions and also an expression of confidence in yourself,” assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said after the applause, which lasted nearly a minute.


Peace deal stalls over IRA arms photos

BELFAST — A major push to seal a political settlement for the turbulent British province of Northern Ireland stalled at the last moment yesterday over demands for photographic evidence of IRA guerrillas scrapping their weapons.

Despite the breakdown, Britain and Ireland published their joint plan for reviving a power-sharing government in Belfast, saying they were agonizingly close to a landmark deal between divided Protestant and Catholic parties.

Protestant unionists led by hard-line preacher Ian Paisley, 78, are demanding that Catholic IRA guerrillas allow photographic proof of disarmament to show “repentance” for three decades of conflict. But Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political ally, says that would be unacceptable humiliation for one of Europe’s oldest guerrilla groups.


Beckham as Joseph outrages churches

LONDON — Church leaders yesterday condemned a Christmas nativity tableau depicting English soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife, Victoria, as the Virgin Mary. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush starred as two of the three wise men at the birth of Christ.

Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians united in calling the exhibit — at Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum in London — a new low in celebrity worship.

In the tableau, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers over the crib as an angel. The shepherds are played by Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson, British actor Hugh Grant and Irish comic Graham Norton.


Mitterrand’s son convicted of tax fraud

PARIS — The eldest son of late President Francois Mitterrand was convicted yesterday of tax fraud and sentenced to a 30-month suspended prison term.

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand was found guilty of not having declared revenue paid by a billionaire businessman from 1998 to 1999. Mitterrand was accused of having evaded $798,000 in taxes.

The businessman, Pierre Falcone, is the central figure in an investigation into purported illicit weapons sales to Angola.


Wrong remains stir anger at Pyongyang

TOKYO — Japan lodged a formal complaint with North Korea yesterday after tests showed that human remains that Pyongyang said belonged to a Japanese citizen abducted decades ago by communist agents are those of someone else.

Pyongyang had said the remains belonged to Megumi Yokota, who disappeared in 1977 in a series of kidnappings of Japanese citizens by agents from North Korea. Pyongyang maintains that she died in 1994.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attacked North Korea for the deception, and said he would demand the truth from Pyongyang.


Darfur attacks force 7,000 to flee

KHARTOUM — Tribesmen attacked villages in Sudan’s Darfur region last week, forced 7,000 people from their homes, and looted the area, the United Nations said yesterday.

A U.N. report said 15 bodies had been found around the town of Edwa in Darfur. International efforts had failed to stop violence in Darfur, which has displaced more than 1.6 million, the United States said Tuesday.

The U.N. report did not say who had launched the attack. But aid community sources had said mounted Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, had carried out an attack around Edwa on Dec. 1.

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