World briefs 3/1/06

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Revelers enjoy last gasp of Carnival in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Carnival celebrations returned to Rio's streets for a last gasp of partying Tuesday, following close on the heels of the city's legendary samba parade. As the centerpiece of Brazil's carnival ended early Tuesday in the massive Sambadrome, bleary-eyed revelers took to the avenues and byways to dance, drink and snarl traffic. "It's a great adventure," said 27-year-old Jeannie Hobbes, of Zimbabwe. Tuesday in carnival week is traditionally the highlight of gay celebrations, with the annual Gay Gala packing the city's La Scala theater, featuring bearded men in lipstick and others in high heels. Tuesday was also the day for the tens of thousands who worked for months on the samba parade to debate who put on the best show.

Mexico City officials try to shut down U.S. hotel

MEXICO CITY -- City officials moved Tuesday to shut down a U.S.-owned hotel that angered many Mexicans when it kicked out a Cuban delegation under pressure from Washington. Virginia Jaramillo Flores, head of the city borough where the upscale Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel is located, said authorities notified the hotel staff that it would be closed because it is in violation of building codes. Jaramillo said the hotel could reopen when it had corrected the violations and paid a $15,000 fine. Borough officials posted signs at the front entrance saying, "Due to infringement of local law, the Sheraton Hotel activities have been suspended." It was not immediately clear if guests or employees would have to leave or if the hotel would be able to legally block the closure.

Inmate killed in fighting at Afghanistan prison

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A spasm of violence broke a fragile truce at Kabul's main prison Tuesday as rioting inmates tried to push down a gate and police fired on them, killing one and wounding three, officials said. Outside the jail, women beat the ground as their children wailed, fearful that loved ones in the facility have been killed in the three-day standoff. "Oh, my son, are you alive?" cried 60-year-old Zubaida Gul. At least five inmates have been killed and 41 wounded since the uprising began late Saturday. Police blame some 350 Taliban and al-Qaida detainees for inciting the riot. The two sides agreed to a truce late Monday, but the deal collapsed 24 hours later over a demand by the authorities that the inmates move to another wing of the lockup, said Abdul Halik, a police commander in the prison. The inmates refused, saying conditions in the new block were no better than the current one. They then tried to break down a gate leading into a courtyard where hundreds of police and soldiers have taken up positions, he said.

Bird flu strain confirmed in cat in Germany

BERLIN -- The deadly strain of bird flu has been found in a cat in Germany, officials said Tuesday, the first time the virus has been identified in an animal other than a bird in central Europe. Health officials urged cat owners to keep pets indoors after the dead cat was discovered over the weekend on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, where most of the more than 100 wild birds infected by the H5N1 strain have been found. The cat is believed to have eaten an infected bird, said Thomas Mettenleiter, head of Germany's Friedrich Loeffler Institute. That is in keeping with a pattern of disease transmission seen in wild cats in Asia. Mettenleiter insisted, however, there was no danger to humans as there have been no documented cases of a cat transmitting the virus to people. However, Maria Cheng of the World Health Organization in Geneva said there was not enough information on how the disease is transmitted to be sure. She noted that tigers and snow leopards in a zoo in Thailand became infected after being fed chicken carcasses, dying from H5N1 in 2003 and 2004.

-- From wire reports

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