World briefs 12/15/03

Monday, December 15, 2003

Five killed in East Coast crash; weather blamed

NARVON, Pa. -- The second snowstorm to hit the East Coast in just over a week led to hundreds of traffic accidents Sunday, including one in which five people died when their sport utility vehicle collided with a snowplow. The driver of the Jeep Grand Cherokee apparently lost control, crossing the center line of an ice-covered road in Caernarvon Township, about 55 miles west of Philadelphia. The snowplow driver and three other people in the SUV survived the crash, authorities said. The accident happened as a winter storm dumped more than a half-foot of snow in parts of Pennsylvania, part of a blanket that stretched from West Virginia to Maine.

Israel, Palestinians, U.S. to unfreeze peace talks

JERUSALEM -- A U.S. envoy has arranged a three-way meeting to try to break the impasse over the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian summit, negotiators said Sunday. The summit would be a first step toward resuming peace talks. Israeli-Palestinian violence continued as David Satterfield, a senior State Department official, pressed on with his mediation efforts. Palestinians fired mortars at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli troops killed a suspected Islamic militant in the West Bank. Satterfield is urging the two sides to revive talks on the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.

Thousands attend farewell to Paul Simon

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Former Sen. Paul Simon was honored Sunday in a memorial service filled with dignitaries who paid tribute to the popular, low-key senator as a tireless advocate for the oppressed. Simon's plain casket -- topped by the artwork of his grandchildren -- rested in front of a stage at Southern Illinois University's sports arena, where more than 3,500 people attended a service that included a 60-piece orchestra. Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy compared Simon to his brother Robert Kennedy. "Paul Simon had that quality of moral courage in abundance," Kennedy said from the flower-covered stage. "He couldn't have cared less about the games of politics; that's why he was successful in politics."

North Korea rejects U.S. nuke crisis proposal

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea on Monday rejected a U.S.-backed proposal on ending a crisis over its nuclear weapons development, and it warned that Washington's "strategy of delaying talks" would only prompt the communist government to accelerate the program. The North's main state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said it was rejecting the U.S. offer because it required North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and did not promise "simultaneous" security assurances from the United States. North Korea has long sought a treaty promising that the United States will never invade.

Assassination attempt on Musharraf fails

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A bomb exploded moments after Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's motorcade passed a bridge near the capital Sunday, at least the second attempt on his life since he enraged hard-liners in 2001 by backing the U.S.-led war on terror in Afghanistan. No one was hurt. Military trucks and armed soldiers immediately cordoned off the area around a bridge in Rawalpindi as bomb experts and other investigators sifted through rubble, witnesses said. The private GEO TV network reported that the blast was caused by a remote-controlled bomb, but officials could not immediately confirm that.

Afghanistan kicks off constitutional convention

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghans offered solemn prayers and hopeful songs from children Sunday as they kicked off a landmark constitutional convention -- a key step in the two-year drive to stabilize the battle-scarred country. Security was tight in the capital, with sharpshooters on rooftops and hundreds of soldiers lining the streets, after warnings from the U.S. military that Taliban militants might try to attack the convention. Some 500 delegates -- from village mullahs to Western-educated exiles -- gathered under a huge tent to hammer out a new constitution in a traditional loya jirga, or grand council.

New Jersey bear hunt ends with 328 kills

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey's first bear hunt in 33 years, prompted by rising numbers of run-ins with humans, ended with hunters taking about 10 percent of the state's estimated bear population. The six-day hunt ended Saturday evening with 328 confirmed kills -- 209 females and 119 males, state Division of Fish and Wildlife director Martin McHugh said. Sixteen of them had been tagged as nuisance bears, he added. Wildlife officials initially had hoped the state's bear population, estimated at about 3,200, would be reduced by up to 500 bears, but McHugh said the hunt "went as we expected it would go."

-- From wire reports

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