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World briefs 5/26/04

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Wind, dry conditions fan New Mexico wildfires

CAPITAN, N.M. -- A fast-moving wildfire fueled by dry forest land grew to more than 23,000 acres Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of dozens of homes, officials said. No injuries were reported in the fire in the Lincoln National Forest in south-central New Mexico, said fire information officer Beth Wilson. The blaze was sparked by lightning May 15.

New Virginia marriage law alarms some gays

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gay activists in Virginia are toying with a new motto for the state: "Virginia is for lovers. Some restrictions apply." Gays and lesbians are angry and even threatening to leave the state over a new law that will prohibit civil unions and could interfere with contracts between same-sex couples. Some legal experts call it the most restrictive anti-gay law in the nation.

Al-Qaida has 18,000 potential terrorists

LONDON -- Far from being crippled by the U.S.-led war on terror, al-Qaida has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks, an International Institute of Strategic Studies report said Tuesday. Al-Qaida is probably working on plans for major attacks on the United States and Europe, and it may be seeking weapons of mass destruction in its desire to inflict as many casualties as possible.

Sarin gas confirmed in Baghdad bomb

WASHINGTON -- Comprehensive testing has confirmed the presence of the chemical weapon sarin in the remains of a roadside bomb discovered this month in Baghdad, a defense official said Tuesday. The determination, made by a laboratory in the United States that the official would not identify, verifies what earlier, less-thorough field tests had found.

Boston Archdiocese plans to close 65 parishes

BOSTON -- The weight of a priest shortage, shrinking collections and the clergy sex abuse scandal combined to force Boston's archbishop to announce Tuesday that his Roman Catholic archdiocese will lose 65 parishes by year's end. The archdiocese, the nation's fourth-largest with more than 2 million Catholics, now has 357 parishes.

Blaze at warehouse forces 300 to evacuate

CONYERS, Ga. -- A huge fire in a chemical warehouse Tuesday set off multiple explosions and prompted 300 people to evacuate as a vast cloud of chlorine-tinged smoke blew through the area. The fire in the warehouse owned by Biolab, which makes chemicals for pools and cleaning products, was reported about 4:30 a.m. The plume of gray, green and white smoke stretched to a half-mile wide and 10 miles long.

-- From wire reports


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