World briefs 1/10/05

Monday, January 10, 2005

Afghanistan weighing amnesty for drug lords

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan leaders are considering offering amnesty to drug smugglers who get out of the country's booming narcotics industry and invest their profits in national reconstruction, senior officials said. The proposed amnesty could blunt a U.S.-sponsored crackdown on traffickers and opium poppy farmers and raises tough ethical questions for a government also seeking reconciliation with followers of the ousted Taliban regime.

U.S. pressuring China to crack down on piracy

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration wants China to crack down on the rampant piracy of U.S. movies, music and computer programs and will not be satisfied until copyright violators get stiff prison sentences, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said. Evans, who today was leaving on his fourth and final trip to China as a member of President Bush's Cabinet, said that he wanted to learn firsthand what China was doing to fulfill promises to better enforce its intellectual property laws.

Eight killed in battle at Iraq checkpoint

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. troops opened fire near a checkpoint after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, and a hospital official said Sunday at least eight people were killed in the second mistaken American attack in two days to have deadly results. South of Baghdad, seven Ukrainian soldiers and one from Kazakhstan were killed in an apparently accidental explosion at an ammunition dump. U.S. officials said they had no information about the shooting at the checkpoint, which occurred overnight Saturday.

At least 13 dead after storm lashes Europe

LONDON -- Powerful winds and heavy rain swept across northern Europe over the weekend, leaving at least 13 dead and two missing and disrupting air and sea transport. Hundreds of thousands of homes lost power. The storm was one of the worst to hit Scandinavia in years, with winds clocked in some areas at more than 75 mph, meteorologists said. At least six people died in Sweden, including two whose cars were hit by falling tree branches, police and rescue officials said. One motorist died in Denmark when a tree crashed onto his car in Odense, and three others were killed by debris and falling trees.

Sixteen charged with plotting terror in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan charged 16 Islamic militants on Sunday with plotting terror attacks, including strikes against the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Amman. The suspected cell members were detained between August and September, but details about the allegations against them surfaced only after they were charged at the office of Jordan's military prosecutor. One of the suspects remains at large. The men, led by 50-year-old Jordanian Abed al-Tahawi, were charged with conspiring to carry out the attacks and illegal possession of automatic weapons, a court official said.

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