Brewery workers threaten strike
Thursday's strike by workers at Guinness breweries throughout Ireland had pub owners and patrons alike wondering when the stocks of the country's most famous drink might run dry.
Union and management negotiators stepped back from the brink late Thursday, with the unions ordering their members to resume work today pending more talks next week. Earlier, more than 1,000 workers shut down plants in Dublin, Waterford, Kilkenny and Dundalk, a border town to the north where Guinness plans to shut a packaging plant later this month. The strikers are demanding that the Dundalk plant remain open, saving 150 jobs.
As part of the late-night deal, Guinness executives agreed to reconsider when to close the plant, but insisted it still needed to be shut eventually. They warned that if strike action were resumed, the strikers' own jobs might be in danger.
Powell reassures Balkan leaders
Secretary of State Colin Powell told Balkan leaders Thursday that the United States will remain engaged in the region with political and economic support and "military assistance as appropriate." But he said the nations must decide for themselves how to deal with ethnic tensions.
In his first visit to the region, Powell praised Macedonia's government for trying to develop a new political framework to resolve differences among rival factions.
But while eruptions of ethnic violence have been subdued for now, "the danger is still there" for fresh outbreaks, Powell said. Representatives of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia, Greece and Turkey were at the meeting. Powell travels today to the Serbian province Kosovo, then to Bosnia.
Communist leader faces trial for 1970 killings
Poland's last communist leader, retired Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, is scheduled to go on trial next month for the deaths of 44 shipyard workers shot by state forces when he was defense minister in 1970, the PAP news agency reported Thursday. Warsaw's Provincial Court opened the way for the proceedings by rejecting defense motions asking that Jaruzelski, 77, and another communist-era leader, Stanislaw Kociolek, be tried by a special state tribunal empowered to try top officials.
Jaruzelski is charged with ordering the military to shoot at workers protesting price hikes. According to official figures, 44 workers were killed in the Baltic coast cities of Gdynia, Gdansk and Szczecin. Jaruzelski faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Kociolek and six other suspects, mainly former army commanders, are also charged.
Troops rescue U.S. hostage
Troops and police stormed a jungle hideout on Thursday to free a U.S. hostage from Muslim rebels who had threatened to behead him as a grisly "birthday present" to the Philippine president.
The hostage, 25-year-old Jeffrey Schilling of Oakland, Calif., was in good health Thursday after the raid on Jolo island, 580 miles south of Manila. Marine commandos and police killed some Abu Sayyaf rebels and wounded others, said Brig. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva.
After the rebels threatened to behead Schilling last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo responded by declaring "all-out war" against the group, pouring 3,000 troops into the island's steamy jungles, then sending in another 1,800 reinforcements early Thursday. She vowed to destroy the rebel movement.
Midwives strike for higher pay
About 1,000 French midwives marched to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's residence Thursday to demand higher wages and increased recognition of their status and qualifications.
The midwives began nationwide protests on March 20, after the government announced a monthly pay rise of $40 for novice midwives and $250 for their more experienced colleagues.
Midwives currently earn a monthly salary ranging from $1,280 to $2,000 based on a 39-hour work week. They say they deserve higher pay that takes into account their responsibilities and education four years of study after high school.
More deaths reported in Mideast clashes
Fresh clashes erupted Thursday between Israelis and Palestinians after unsuccessful U.S.-sponsored cease-fire talks, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened to send troops into Palestinian-ruled territory if attacks on Israelis do not stop.
A Palestinian farmer and a 14-year-old Palestinian boy were shot and killed Thursday in separate incidents.
Palestinians said there were no clashes, but the Israeli military said a Palestinian tried to throw a firebomb at an Israeli civilian bus and soldiers shot at him, setting off an exchange of fire.
In Ramallah, Palestinian security forces said a car bomb apparently targeting a Palestinian activist blew up Thursday after police moved it to a safe location. No one was hurt.