World briefs 6/14/04

Monday, June 14, 2004

Violence, mistrust threaten historic Afghan vote

KHWAJA OMRI, Afghanistan -- Officials at impromptu registration sites are scrambling to sign up millions of Afghans for a September vote supposed to cement an era of peace after the disasters of Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule. But there is growing concern that border lands where Taliban still roam will be left out -- and that intolerant warlords will tighten their grip on power in the country.

Two killed in weekend Midwest storms

Crews worked Sunday to restore power to thousands of residents following thunderstorms that swept across Missouri and Kansas, spawning tornadoes and causing at least one traffic death and a drowning. At least six tornadoes touched down south of Wichita, Kan., destroying one home, overturning cars and downing power lines. Several funnel clouds were reported in Missouri as the storm moved from Nebraska.

Web sites featuring calls to arms, video of attacks

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Web sites featuring videos of the beheading of Americans or captives pleading for their lives have become part of an electronic war of incitement, humiliation and terrorist outreach, experts say, providing a window into the minds of militant Muslims who hate the West. The latest dramatic Web posting came Saturday, a short video that showed no faces but included a voice yelling in English: "No, no, please!"

Cassini's photos of Saturn moon support theories

LOS ANGELES -- High-resolution pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft during a flyby of Saturn's largest outer moon suggest the banged-up rock hails from the outer reaches of the solar system, a mission scientist said Sunday. Photographs released Sunday show shiny patches, probably ice, on the battered moon Phoebe, which is dotted with overlapping craters. The ice probably was excavated from under the moon's surface as objects struck Phoebe over the eons.-- From wire reports

Coalition to retain 5,000 prisoners in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- As many as 1,400 detainees will either be released or transferred to Iraqi authorities by the June 30 handover of power, the U.S. military said Sunday. The Americans will continue to hold between 4,000 and 5,000 prisoners deemed a threat to the coalition, a U.S. official said. The U.S. command will also continue operating the Abu Ghraib prison, focus of the scandal over U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said.

Ex-president marks 80th with parachute jump

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 80th birthday with a 13,000-foot parachute jump over his presidential library Sunday, and said he felt the same thrill of prior jumps even though his hopes of skydiving solo were dashed. He made a tandem jump -- harnessed to a member of an Army's Golden Knights parachute team -- after officials decided the wind conditions and low clouds made it too dangerous for the 41st president to jump alone, which he did when he turned 75.

Pakistani authorities arrest 10 al-Qaida suspects

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani authorities have arrested 10 suspected al-Qaida members, including a nephew of detained terror mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has been in U.S. custody the past year, the interior minister said Sunday. The men were arrested over the weekend in separate raids in the southern port city of Karachi, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said.

Iran seeks to blunt censure of nuclear activities

VIENNA, Austria -- Iran mixed public bluster with quiet diplomacy in a drive to soften U.N. criticism for its nuclear program. But on the eve of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency conference, diplomats insisted Sunday that Tehran would be censured. The diplomats said Iran hoped to temper the language of a draft resolution laden with negative terms for the Islamic republic's lack of cooperation with a probe by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The draft "deplores" omissions and delays by Iran or notes them with "serious concern."

Runoff pending for Serbia's presidency

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- A nationalist supporter of ousted President Slobodan Milosevic failed to win a majority Sunday in Serbia's presidential elections, forcing a runoff vote against a pro-Western reformist candidate in two weeks. Tomislav Nikolic of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party garnered 31.62 percent of votes cast, ahead of Boris Tadic of the pro-Western Democratic Party with 27.93 percent, according to official results from Serbia's State Election Commission.

-- From wire reports

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