World briefs 5/14/04

Friday, May 14, 2004

Scientists: Crater possibly linked to mass extinction

WASHINGTON -- Millions of years before the dinosaurs vanished, an even bigger mass extinction wiped out more than 90 percent of the species on Earth. Now scientists think they may have evidence of an impact crater that contributed to the "Great Dying." A team led by Luann Becker of the University of California, Santa Barbara, reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Science that a crater off the northwest coast of Australia shows evidence of a large meteor impact at the time of the early extinction.

Corruption may have cost billions in World Bank

WASHINGTON -- As much as $130 billion may have been lost due to corruption in World Bank loans, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday. In a speech at the start of hearings on the multilateral development banks, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., quoted expert estimates that between $26 billion and $130 billion in bank loans has been misused since 1946, when the organization started lending.

Greek group responsible for Athens bombing

ATHENS, Greece -- A Greek radical group claimed responsibility Thursday for triple bombings at a police station and warned that some visitors to the Olympic Games -- from heads of state to wealthy Western tourists -- would be "undesirable." The proclamation by the group Revolutionary Struggle did not threaten future attacks. But its anger over Olympic security measures could further shake international confidence about the Aug. 13 to 29 games.

Judge denies 11th hour bid to stop gay marriages

BOSTON -- A federal judge Thursday rejected a last-minute bid by conservative groups to block the nation's first state-sanctioned gay marriages from taking place in Massachusetts next week. U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said Massachusetts' high court acted within its authority in interpreting the Massachusetts Constitution. The plaintiffs immediately announced they would take their case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Red Cross issues report on Guantanamo prisoners

GENEVA -- The International Red Cross said Thursday it has given U.S. authorities a report on treatment of prisoners held at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, but declined to say whether it cited abuses similar to those it found in Iraq. The document, based on ICRC visits to the base in February and March, was given to officials at the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council. Officials declined to discuss the report's contents or say which individuals had received it.

S. Korea president beats impeachment vote

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's Constitutional Court reinstated impeached President Roh Moo-hyun in a historic ruling today, rejecting parliament's effort to oust the embattled leader. The ruling, broadcast live on national television, took 30 minutes and covered three main charges against Roh -- illegal campaigning, incompetence and economic mismanagement. The Constitutional Court cleared Roh of the charge of incompetence for failing to rein in corruption among several former aides. The court found Roh in violation of election laws, but said the infraction was not serious enough to warrant impeachment. Roh resumes his executive duties immediately.

Illinois gas prices hit record at $2.02 a gallon

Behind her counter at an East Peoria convenience store, Beth Morris gets an earful every day about Illinois' soaring gasoline prices, which climbed to an all-time high Thursday at $2.02 a gallon. Almost every customer grumbles about prices that have jumped 50 cents in the last six months, and one customer threw his oil company credit card at her, vowing never to come back, Morris said.

-- From wire reports

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