Powerful farm lobbyist backs food sales to Cuba

Saturday, November 23, 2002

HAVANA -- The head of a powerful U.S. farm lobby said Friday his group will back renewed efforts in Congress to allow U.S. farmers to use financing to sell food to communist Cuba.

Now all American food sales to the Caribbean island -- permitted under a special exception to the long-standing U.S. trade embargo -- must be paid for with cash. The Bush administration has argued against financing, saying Cuba doesn't pay its debts.

"We believe that private entities should have the opportunity to provide financing if they so choose," said Bob Stallman, president of the Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents 5.2 million American farm families.

Stallman and the heads of state farm bureaus in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Ohio, Wyoming and Oklahoma visited food production facilities in Cuba and met with government officials, including President Fidel Castro.

Bullet kills U.N. official in West Bank cross fire

JERUSALEM -- A British aid worker was killed Friday in a U.N. compound in the West Bank during a gunbattle between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen -- the first senior U.N. official to die in over two years of fighting.

The United Nations accused Israeli soldiers of preventing an ambulance from immediately reaching Iain Hook, a senior manager for UNRWA, the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees. The Israeli army said he was evacuated from the U.N. compound in the Jenin refugee camp as soon as possible.

The death occurred hours after Israel reoccupied the West Bank town of Bethlehem for the first time since August, following a Jerusalem bus bombing Thursday that killed 11 people, four of them children.

With the incursion, Israel has retaken control of all Palestinian population centers in the West Bank except for the quiet oasis of Jericho -- mirroring the massive deployment that capped military offensives in April and June.

Spain sends sub to check for oil leaks from tanker

A CORUNA, Spain -- The government plans to send a small submarine to examine the sunken tanker Prestige and check whether millions of gallons of fuel oil in its hold have turned solid and pose only a limited environmental threat as experts believe, officials said Friday.

France's Environment Ministry has agreed to lend Spain the Nautile, a deep-water submarine that can carry a crew of up to three people.

The submarine will check whether the estimated 17 million gallons of fuel oil have solidified inside the Prestige, which sank Tuesday and rests two miles below the surface of the Atlantic off Spain's northwest coast, Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said.

British pubs receive fines as drinkers also dance

LONDON -- You're drinking with friends in a pub in London's lively West End when a catchy tune comes on the jukebox and you begin swaying to the music. Stop right there -- you might be on the verge of breaking the law.

A British pub chain was fined $7,850 after undercover inspectors caught a few patrons dancing at two of its popular bars. The crime: flouting licensing laws that ban "rhythmic moving."

Another pub where customers were found "swaying" got two written warnings.

Under British law, dancing is only allowed in pubs that have public entertainment licenses. But getting the license from local governments can be an expensive and overly bureaucratic process and, consequently, only around 5 percent of pubs, restaurants and nightclubs currently allow live entertainment and dancing.

--From wire reports

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