World briefs 1/13/05

Thursday, January 13, 2005

U.N.: Polio cases rose sharply in 2004

GENEVA -- The number of worldwide polio cases last year rose by almost one-third after a vaccine boycott in Nigeria spawned a resurgence of the disease across Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. The number of cases worldwide in 2004 reached 1,185, compared with 784 in 2003, the United Nations health agency said. Hardline Islamic clerics in Nigeria's northern Kano state led the immunization boycott, claiming the polio vaccine was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigeria's Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS.

British flight backtracks after U.S. refuses flier

LONDON -- A British Airways flight from London to New York was forced to turn back Wednesday after U.S. authorities refused to allow one of the passengers to land, saying he posed a terrorist threat, the airline said. Flight BA175 was three hours into its journey to John F. Kennedy International Airport when it was forced to turn back to London's Heathrow Airport, where the passenger was met by police. A Transportation Security Administration spokesman said the passenger was traveling on a French passport.

Opponent delays challenge of Ukraine presidential vote

KIEV, Ukraine -- Representatives of the loser of Ukraine's presidential election said Wednesday that they would delay filing complaints challenging Viktor Yushchenko's victory because the hundreds of volumes of documents were not yet ready. Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian former prime minister, has refused to concede defeat in the Dec. 26 election awarded to Yushchenko. Yanukovych charges that the vote was filled with irregularities.

EU moves closer to single European constitution

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Parliament gave its overwhelming endorsement to the European Union's first-ever constitution Wednesday and urged EU governments to quickly follow suit. The EU assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted 500 to 137, with 40 abstentions, to ratify the new treaty, which is to take effect in 2007 if unanimously ratified across the 25-nation bloc. The 732-member parliament called on EU governments to move quickly to sell the constitution, which faces widespread opposition in several EU-skeptic countries.

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