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Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Briefly

August 20, 2002

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Germany

Flood's toll on lives, damage still rising

Floodwaters from the rain-swollen Elbe River on Monday overwhelmed a dike and swamped part of the east German city of Dessau, forcing more evacuations as Europe wrestled with the aftermath of violent storms that swept the continent two weeks ago.

German authorities reported three more deaths Monday, increasing the Europe-wide toll to 109. European leaders also grappled with how to pay for damages estimated at up to $20 billion Germany rescinded a planned tax cut to help fund its recovery efforts.

High flood ramparts helped Budapest, the Hungarian capital, escape largely unscathed as the Danube River peaked Monday at a historic high.

Weather forecasts for Germany and central Europe called for dry weather in the next few days, with scattered showers over western Hungary. No heavy rain was predicted.

Havana

Shipment of food from U.S. arrives

The first brand-name American food sold directly to Cuba in more than four decades arrived on the island this weekend a 132-ton shipment of butter, margarine and cereals.

The load, which arrived Sunday, is the first half of a $750,000 order Cuba placed with Marsh Supermarkets Inc. of Indianapolis for its Marsh brand products. The second half of the order is expected to arrive later this month.

With the shipment, Cuba now has purchased about 770,000 tons of American food worth about $125 million since the communist government started taking advantage of a U.S. law easing the 40-year-old American trade embargo to allow direct food sales.

The new shipment was the first of packaged goods bearing a brand name Marsh's. Past deliveries have been of bulk commodities, including apples, onions, corn, rice, wheat, soy, poultry, vegetable oil, eggs and pork lard.

Nigeria

Death-by-stoning sentence upheld

An Islamic high court in northern Nigeria rejected an appeal Monday by a single mother sentenced to be stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock.

The woman's lawyers said they planned to file an appeal to a yet higher Islamic court. If that fails, they can appeal to the Supreme Court, where the case would force a showdown between Nigeria's constitutional and religious authorities.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's government has declared Islamic law, or Shariah, punishments such as beheadings, stonings and amputations unconstitutional. Some predominantly Muslim northern states, which began instituting Shariah shortly after civilian rule replaced military dictatorship in 1999, have accused him of meddling.

Clutching her baby daughter, Amina Lawal burst into tears as the judge delivered the ruling in Funtua. Lawal, 30, was sentenced in March after giving birth to a daughter more than nine months after divorcing.

Brazil

Fire burns national park

Fire raged through a national park in southwestern Brazil and destroyed 11,000 acres of wetlands vegetation, firefighters said Monday.

The fire began Saturday at Ilha Grande National Park, a 195,000-acre preserve between the states of Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul, park worker Marcia da Silva Ferreira said by telephone.

Firefighters and environmental officials had the blaze under control on Monday, Ferreira said. The cause of the fire wasn't known, but park officials suspected arson, she said.

Last week, firefighters contained a weeklong blaze that destroyed nearly 50,000 acres in Varzea de Ivinhema State Park, also in Mato Grosso do Sul state.

Some 2,650 fires this year in Mato Grosso do Sul have been blamed on exceptionally dry weather.

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