World digest 9/7/01

Friday, September 7, 2001

Peres to meet with Arafat next week

CERNOBBIO, Italy -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday night that he will meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat next week in the Middle East.

In the Mideast, Palestinian International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath said efforts were under way to arrange the talks. "Until this moment, no time and no date and no place for such a meeting has been set."

Peres made the announcement as he arrived in Cernobbio, a lakeside retreat in northern Italy.

Peres did not specify which date or just where he would begin his meetings with Arafat in his quest to end violence in the Middle East.

Police surround murder suspect after chase

NEWMAN, Calif. -- A suspect in a double murder led police on a 110 mph chase Thursday, then holed up in his crippled automobile as officers surrounded him. The standoff forced the closure of Interstate 5.

Two hostage negotiators were with police at the highway outside Newman, trying to persuade Joaquin Gutierrez, 40, to surrender. Gutierrez led police on a chase reaching speeds of 110 mph through rush-hour traffic Thursday morning.

California Highway Patrol officers ended the chase by throwing a strip of spikes in front of his car, which popped his tires. Gutierrez is named in a warrant in the June 23 killing of his wife, Guadalupe Gutierrez, 40, and a 15-year-old stepson.

Mexican court rules on who resets the clocks

MEXICO CITY -- President Vicente Fox does not have the legal right to tell Mexicans what time it is, the Supreme Court ruled in the latest round of a battle over daylight saving time.

The court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Fox's approval of daylight saving time was unconstitutional, given that only Congress can alter a federal law that states each day has 24 hours.

The application of daylight saving, begun in 1996, makes one day of the year 23 hours long and another 25 hours long.

The court's decision won't go into effect until the end of September, when daylight saving time was scheduled to come to an end anyway.

Death toll rises in South African wildlife park fire

SKUKUZA, South Africa -- Helicopters circled over a popular wildlife park in northeastern South Africa, dropping water on a brushfire Thursday as the death toll rose to 23.

The fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon in the southwestern part of Kruger National Park, was under control but still burning in some spots, park officials said. The cause was not immediately known.

Most of those killed were women from neighboring villages who had been hired to cut grass. The women fled as the fast-moving fire approached their camp, and were overcome by smoke, park officials said. Four park rangers assisting in the rescue effort also were killed.

U.N. agency appeals for aid for Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The U.N. World Food Program appealed Thursday for $151 million in emergency aid to save millions of people in Afghanistan from starvation.

Gerard van Dijk, the agency's representative to Afghanistan, said a severe food crisis caused by the worst drought in decades and nearly 30 years of armed conflict has lead to "pre-famine conditions."

Some 4 million Afghans are facing death by starvation, the United Nations says. As many as 20 percent of children in certain drought-affected districts die before they reach the age of 5 and the average life expectancy is 40.

Afghans already make up the world's largest refugee population, according to the United Nations.

Florida commission to ban shark feedings

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- A state commission Thursday moved to ban shark-feeding scuba dives in Florida following two deadly shark attacks along the East Coast over the Labor Day weekend.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 7-1 for a total ban on feeding marine animals by people in the water. The proposed rule could become effective after a hearing and a subsequent final vote in November.

Several commissioners expressed fear that sharks could be conditioned to associate humans with food.

Tour operators said that the dives are safe and no tourists have ever been bitten.

Thieves take German marks, leave euros

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Robbers took $2.5 million in marks from a German cash transport truck Thursday but left behind brand new euro notes, which cannot yet be spent, police said.

The thieves fled with around $2.5 million in marks.

Euros aren't legal tender until Jan. 1, when they will be put into circulation in 12 European countries. Until then, banks are not allowed to give them to the public.

While the marks are currently spendable, the thieves will have to use them by Feb. 28.

Three Polish boys killed when shell explodes

WARSAW, Poland -- Three boys were killed and one was injured when they accidentally detonated a World War II mortar shell they found in southeastern Poland, police said Thursday.

The explosion occurred Wednesday afternoon in Barwinek on the border with Slovakia, about 220 miles southeast of Warsaw.

Police said the boys, ages 7 to 9, found the shell in a forest and brought it to a small shed. The shell exploded, killing three of them.

--From wire reports

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