World briefs 3/8/07

Congo official arrested on uranium charge

KINSHASA, Congo -- The head of Congo's atomic energy commission has been arrested on suspicion of illegally selling uranium found in the Central African mineral giant, officials said Wednesday. Fortunat Lumu, the director of the country's only nuclear center, and one of his aides were arrested Tuesday "because they were accused of having illicitly sold a quantity of uranium," Attorney General Tshimanga Mukendi said. Mukendi refused to give information on the amount of uranium or the alleged buyer. Uranium can be used to breed plutonium, which is used both in nuclear warheads and as fuel for nuclear reactors.

Overhaul of House of Lords gains support

LONDON -- Legislators took an unprecedented step Wednesday toward ending an age-old tradition of allowing Britain's unelected elite to hold political power, backing proposals for an entirely elected House of Lords. House of Commons lawmakers voted 337-224 in favor of developing laws to elect all members of Parliament's upper chamber -- potentially one of the most significant constitutional changes in British history. The move requires new legislation. Lawmakers in both the Commons and Lords will hold future votes on the plan when the laws are proposed, which cannot happen before the next parliamentary session beginning in October. The House of Lords, which emerged around 700 years ago, does not make laws but has the power to amend legislation or to delay the passage of legislation for a limited period.

Turkey blocks YouTube access, citing insult

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- A Turkish court ordered access to YouTube's Web site blocked Wednesday, after a prosecutor recommended the ban because of videos allegedly insulting the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Paul Doany, head of Turk Telekom, Turkey's largest telecommunications provider, said his company had immediately begun enforcing the ban. During the past week, Turkish media publicized what some called a "virtual war" between Greeks and Turks on YouTube, with people from both sides posting videos to belittle and berate the other.

Suicide bomber kills 30 at Iraqi cafe

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A suicide attacker blew himself up in a cafe northeast of the capital Wednesday, killing 30 people as a wave of violence left 90 Iraqis dead throughout the country. The bloodshed persisted as Iraqi security forces struggled to protect more than 1 million Shiite pilgrims streaming toward the holy city of Karbala for annual religious rituals that begin Friday. The pilgrims are facing a string of attacks along the way that have claimed at least 174 lives in two days -- among 284 killed across Iraq since Tuesday.They included 22 people who died Wednesday in a car bombing at a checkpoint in southern Baghdad set up to protect pilgrims, the U.S. military said.

-- From wire reports