News In Brief
Angry European governments said they'd nonetheless abandon their efforts to have former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet extradited for trial after British authorities put him on a medically equipped plane for home. Home Secretary Jack Straw, in a final ruling on the case, said Pinochet was mentally incapable of understanding trial proceedings. The move ended 16 months of house arrest in London, where Pinochet had gone for medical treatment. Spanish prosecutors, Switzerland, France, and Belgium had sought Pinochet's extradition so he could be tried for crimes against humanity during his 17-year rule. (Story, page 1.)
It's time more oil should be pumped to ease world prices, three major producer countries agreed. But the petroleum ministers from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Venezuela did not say how much of an increase they'd recommend to the next meeting of the OPEC cartel, March 27 in Vienna. OPEC accounts for about one-third of global production. The world consumes about 77 million barrels of oil a day - 2 million more than is currently being pumped. Prices are at a nine-year high. (Story, page 2.)
A fierce new cyclone was bearing down on Mozambique, with weather forecasters predicting it could hit the badly flooded nation by next Wednesday. International aid efforts were increasing, but still more water from other flooded southern African countries was expected to reach Mozambique as soon as tomorrow. Human casualties could only be guessed at so far, and early conservative estimates put the damage to property and infrastructure in the hundreds of millions of dollars. (Related story, page 6.)
The first ethnic Albanians who tried to use a new NATO-built footbridge in the volatile Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica were forced back by stone-throwing Serbs. But UN officials said they still intended to return 43 Albanian families to their homes in the Serb neighborhood.
The yacht Black Magic (above, r.) clinched the America's Cup for New Zealand, sweeping Italy's Luna Rossa in their best-of-nine final round, 5-0. The win, in rough seas and blustery winds off Auckland, made New Zealand the only country other than the US to defend the cup, the oldest trophy in sports.
With the number of white-owned farms invaded by black squatters now up to 70 in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe gave written notice of intent to impose a new constitutional amendment that would allow the rest to be seized without compensation. Critics called the invasions a pretext for Mugabe's move. Last month, voters in a nationwide referendum rejected a proposed new charter that, among other things, would have demanded compensation to the whites be paid by Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler. That defeat is widely perceived as weakening Mugabe's hand, with crucial parliamentary elections due next month.
CORRECTION: An item in this space Thursday, March 2, was incomplete in describing a key bill before Israel's parliament. The measure would require that a national referendum on peace with Syria win more than 60 percent of the vote to pass. But Israelis living abroad would be counted in the universe of eligible voters, even if they did not return home to participate.
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