World briefs 081702

Saturday, August 17, 2002

'N Sync star to continue space-mission training

MOSCOW -- Pop singer Lance Bass will be allowed to continue to train for his planned mission into space, which had been threatened by delayed payments for the venture, a Russian space agency official said Friday.

Bass, of the boy band 'N Sync, has been training since July at the Russian cosmonaut center Star City outside Moscow with the aim of being part of a Russian crew going to the international space station in October.

But the venture, which would be the third paid "space tourist" trip, has been endangered by payment delays. The price tag is said to be about $20 million.

"Yesterday, we received an official statement from Bass' producer that new investors had been found ... and they promised that within a week the money would be transferred" to Russia, said Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for the Rosaviakosmos space agency.

He also said the new terms require Bass to undergo some training at U.S. space facilities in Houston, Texas.

Israel destroys two houses in West Bank

JERUSALEM -- Israeli soldiers destroyed two houses belonging to suicide bombers in the West Bank, the military said Friday, a day after soldiers killed a child and two attackers in two shootings in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, a meeting set for Thursday to discuss a plan to ease tensions was put off, probably until Saturday night.

The military said soldiers destroyed the house of Iyad Sawalha, an Islamic Jihad member who was responsible for a suicide attack in which a bomber blew himself up next to an Israeli bus, killing 17 passengers on May 6. Troops also knocked down the family home of Murad Abu Asal, who blew himself up on Jan. 30, wounding two Israeli soldiers.

In recent weeks, Israel has begun demolishing the homes of attackers to dissuade others from becoming suicide bombers.

Zimbabwe white farmers summoned to court

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The first white Zimbabwean farmers charged with defying government eviction orders appeared in court Friday and posted bail, allowing them to return to their homes, farming leaders said.

Hundreds of the 2,900 white farmers ordered to leave their land by midnight Aug. 8 have defied the order. Many reportedly have been harassed by ruling party militants, but the government made no move against them until the court case Friday.

Mac Crawford, an official with the Commercial Farmers Union and one of the five arrested, said the farmers were told to reappear in court Sept. 6 in the town of Gwanda, 80 miles south of the western city of Bulawayo.

No bail conditions were imposed and they were free to return to their farms after posting bail, Crawford said.

Four terror suspects try to commit suicide

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Four terror suspects attempted suicide in their cells at the U.S. Naval detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a military spokesman said.

Three men tried to hang themselves at Camp Delta, the prison where 598 men are being held, said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hoey, a detention mission spokesman. Another man tried to slash his wrist with a plastic razor, he said.

The suicide attempts occurred in July and August, but military spokesmen gave no details on how seriously they were hurt. According to the military the men tried to hang themselves with towels and sheets.

Dams burst in Mexico, kill at least eight

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Heavy rains burst two dams in Mexico, sending water crashing through several villages and killing at least eight. Six others were missing and feared dead, state officials said.

Federal officials put the death toll higher, reporting that 14 died and 17 more were missing.

In San Luis Potosi, a dam buckled under heavy rains early Thursday, flooding the nearby municipality of Villa de Reyes. Authorities in San Luis Potosi, the state's capital, said seven people were killed and five others were missing.-- From wire reports

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