Queen Opens Scotland's New Parliament
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Queen Elizabeth II opened Scotland's first Parliament in nearly 300 years yesterday in what nationalists declared a warm-up for full independence.
Britain's Labor Party government hopes its diluting of power from London will preserve Scotland's long union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland and head off nationalist demands.
In a traditional display, the queen rode to the Parliament building in an open, horse-drawn carriage, escorted by members of the Household Cavalry from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her Scottish residence. She was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, and heir, Prince Charles.
Judge Adds 22 Counts Against Pinochet
MADRID -- A Spanish judge has added 22 torture accusations to his request to have former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet extradited to Spain for trial on charges of human rights abuses.
Pinochet, 83, was arrested in London on Oct. 16 at the request of Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is seeking to try Pinochet for abuses committed during his 1973-1990 regime.
Britain's House of Lords has ruled that Pinochet can only be extradited to face charges of torture alleged to have occurred after December 1988, when Britain adopted an international convention on torture. Since the ruling, Garzon has added nearly 100 post-1988 torture charges to his case.
Kurdish Rebel Attack Linked to Trial Verdict
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- Kurdish rebels killed three people in a coffeehouse in eastern Turkey to protest the death sentence imposed Tuesday on the rebels' leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
Security officials said two Kurdish Workers' Party guerrillas opened fire with automatic weapons, killing three men in the coffeehouse in Elazig and injuring three others. One of the attackers was killed by security forces in a subsequent shootout.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit brushed aside European criticisms of the death sentence against Ocalan, saying efforts to influence Turkish courts could produce a backlash.
Talks Between Koreas Stall Once More
BEIJING -- Talks between rivals North Korea and South Korea stalled again, with the south pushing for discussions on reuniting separated families and the north again demanding an apology for a naval clash.
The session lasted only 75 minutes. South Korean Vice Unification Minister Yang Young Shik afterward characterized the talks as "parallel lines of different positions."
Despite an emotional plea from South Korean negotiators, North Korean delegates refused to discuss reunions for families separated by the 54-year division of the Korean peninsula unless Seoul sends more fertilizer to the economically battered North.
In Tokyo, North Korea has said it will not continue normalization talks with Japan after about seven months of informal dialogue, the Kyodo news agency quoted sources close to the talks as saying.
S. Korean Police Prepare Charges in Fatal Fire
HWASUNG, South Korea -- Police said today they will charge seven people in connection with a fire at a summer camp dormitory that killed 19 kindergartners and four adults Wednesday.
Chun Kyong Ja, head of the kindergarten, faces charges of involuntary homicide, said police, who allege that Chun was drinking with her husband and colleagues when the fire broke out and did little to try rescue the children. Also facing charges were Kim Yong Se, 26, the owner of the camp, a kindergarten teacher and four builders involved in the construction of the camp, police said.
Indian Planes Hit Targets in Himalayas
DRAS, India -- Indian fighter jets pounded Islamic guerrillas entrenched on Himalayan mountaintops, and ground troops inched toward a strategic peak near the Pakistani border.
The round-the-clock airstrikes yesterday accompanied the fiercest fighting in seven weeks between Indian soldiers and secessionist Islamic fighters in Indian-held Kashmir.
India says the opposing fighters include Pakistani soldiers who crossed the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir. Pakistan has said its troops are engaged only in retaliatory shelling.
Absentee Ballot Proposal Dies in Mexico
MEXICO CITY -- Ruling-party politicians blocked a measure that would have enabled millions of Mexicans living abroad to vote in the 2000 presidential race, drawing the ire of citizens' groups.
A special session to approve the measure was canceled after senators from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, failed to show. Several citizens' groups pledged to punish the party.
"We will back, in any way we can, the political parties that supported us," said Jesus Martinez Saldana, who heads the Coalition of Mexicans Abroad, a group lobbying for absentee balloting for some 10.7 million Mexicans living in the United States.
Mexico Imposes New Tax on Visitors
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico has begun to impose a $15 visitors tax on most foreign tourists and business people. Many travelers were not aware of the new fee, automatically included in the price of airline tickets. But some tour bus companies have canceled trips in response.
Mexico expects the tax to yield about $60 million by the end of the year. The proceeds will pay to promote tourism and help Mexican consulates defend the rights of migrant workers abroad.
Not everyone has to pay the tax. People crossing the border who do not plan on going more than 18 miles inside Mexico are exempt, as are cruise ship passengers if they spend less than three days in Mexico, and travelers who stick to certain tourist zones like the Tijuana- to-Ensenada corridor along the Pacific Coast, or the archaeological ruins of Paquime, about 100 miles from El Paso.
Venezuelan Leader Wants Congress Dissolved
CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez demanded that the opposition-controlled Congress be dissolved after a Senate panel rejected his proposal to promote dozens of military officers.
In his strongest rhetoric since taking office five months ago, the former paratrooper urged a popular assembly that will be elected July 25 to make dissolution of Congress its first task.
"Congress has very, very few days left," Chavez said in a speech to military officers, calling the legislature a hotbed of corruption in a country where more than half the population of 23 million lives in poverty.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Cable car accidents are like airplane crashes. They're very rare, but when they happen they are dramatic."
-- Jean-Charles Simiand, a French cable car company manager -- Page A19