World briefs 3/23/05

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Gitmo terror suspects get rare open hearings

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- A Sudanese detainee denied being a threat to the United States during a rare open hearing Tuesday in military proceedings that are determining whether terrorism suspects jailed here should remain in custody. Three other prisoners refused to participate and their hearings were held without their presence. The hearings, many of which have been closed to journalists, come amid a Defense Department effort to persuade home countries to take custody of some 545 detainees at this Navy base.

Fugitives celebrate after Tulkarem changes hands

TULKAREM, West Bank -- Dozens of Palestinian fugitives reunited with their families Tuesday, ending years on the run, after Israeli troops returned this West Bank town to Palestinian control and promised to stop chasing the men. Tulkarem was the second of five Palestinian towns to be handed over to Palestinian control, a sign that Mideast peacemaking is inching forward. However, the handover, sealed by a ceremonial handshake between Palestinian and Israeli field commanders, was seen by residents as only a small step on the road to peace.

More work, pay ahead for French employees

PARIS -- French lawmakers effectively abolished the country's 35-hour workweek Tuesday by allowing employers to increase working hours -- and pay -- as the country struggles with high unemployment and stagnating living standards. In a final vote, the National Assembly approved a government-backed bill permitting employers to negotiate deals with staff to increase working time by 220 hours a year in return for better pay.

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