World briefs 7/21/04

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

U.S. chess great facing deportation from Japan

NARITA, Japan -- The Japanese government is preparing to deport American chess legend Bobby Fischer for staying in this country on an invalid passport, immigration officials said Tuesday. Fischer was detained at the international airport in this city just outside of Tokyo last Tuesday after trying to board a flight for Manila, Philippines. Immigration officials confirmed that Fischer, 61, is in their custody.

Britain has cut army bases in Northern Ireland

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Britain has made significant military cutbacks in Northern Ireland over the past five years but needs to do much more to reach a normal level, an international panel of experts reported Tuesday. The British government welcomed the 56-page report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, which offered a detailed picture of cutbacks since December 1999, and today's still-exceptional commitment of troops.

Jailed Burundian soldiers, rebels seize two prisons

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Hundreds of jailed soldiers, former rebels and militiamen seized control of two prisons after evicting jailers and demanding provisional release under the terms of a peace deal intended to end Burundi's 11-year civil war, officials said Tuesday. At least 2,190 prisoners refused to go back to their cells or to appear in court and are blocking the transfer of prisoners to and from the main prison in the Burundian capital.

Alleged U.S. Army deserter Jenkins undergoes tests

TOKYO -- A former U.S. soldier accused of defecting to North Korea decades ago underwent tests at a Tokyo hospital on Tuesday after Washington said it would hold off, for now, on demands that he be turned over to face desertion charges. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he hoped Tokyo and Washington could agree on a solution that would allow 64-year-old Charles Jenkins to stay in Japan with his Japanese wife and two daughters.

-- From wire reports

Indian high court orders compensation to gas victims

BHOPAL, India -- It will take at least three months to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to victims of a 1984 gas leak in central India that killed 12,000 people and injured more than 20,000, an official said Tuesday. U.S.-based Union Carbide paid $470 million in compensation under a settlement with the Indian government in 1989. But only part of that money was given to the victims, with the last payment made in 2000. On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered the government to distribute the remaining $330 million to victims and relatives of the dead.

U.N.: 50 million people displaced in their own countries

GENEVA -- Conflicts, natural disasters and unchecked development have left about 50 million people homeless in their own countries, a new estimate that dwarfs the number of refugees known to aid workers, a U.N. official said Tuesday. The United Nations knows of about 14 million refugees worldwide who have fled their homes for safer foreign lands, said Dennis McNamara, director of the U.N.'s interagency campaign to help the displaced.

Rescuers flood fiery Ukrainian mine with water, nitrogen

KIEV, Ukraine -- Rescuers flooded a mine shaft in eastern Ukraine with water and nitrogen Tuesday, trying to extinguish a raging fire and resume the search for survivors after a massive blast that killed 31 miners working 3,180 feet below the surface. Emergency workers were looking for five other miners unaccounted for in the Krasnolimanskaya mine where methane and coal dust exploded Monday night

Officials, engineer arrested in Indian school fire case

BANGALORE, India -- Police charged six government officials and a private engineer Tuesday with falsifying records in connection with a school fire last week that killed 90 children. Five of the six officials were key members in the district education department in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu state. The sixth was a local revenue official responsible for approving school licenses, police officer P. Kalyanasundaram said. Kumbakonam is 175 miles southwest of Madras. The engineer had certified that the private school building was structurally sound, a necessity in India for licensing a school.

Spanish lawmaker voted president of European Parliament

STRASBOURG, France -- Despite a boycott by Euro-skeptics, lawmakers on Tuesday elected a pro-European from Spain as its next president as the expanded European Parliament met for the first time. The 732-member assembly chose Josep Borrell, a relatively unknown Spanish Socialist, to its top job. The parliament vote was the first for hundreds of lawmakers from the 10 new member states -- many from the former Soviet bloc -- that joined the European Union in May.

Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah guerrilla killed in fighting

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Israeli soldiers clashed with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas along the border Tuesday, leaving two soldiers and one guerrilla dead and prompting an Israeli general to threaten Hezbollah and its sponsors -- Syria and Iran. The renewed fighting, the most serious in months, followed a Beirut bombing Monday that killed a veteran Hezbollah commander. Hezbollah blamed Israel for the assassination, but the Israeli army denied involvement.

-- From wire reports

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