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Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

Briefly

November 2, 2002

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Moscow: Government considers limiting news coverage

Russian lawmakers passed amendments Friday that would sharply curb news coverage of anti-terrorist operations and prohibit the media from carrying rebel statements a legislative step officials called increasingly urgent in light of last week's hostage crisis.

The lower house of parliament gave preliminary approval to the amendments one to a law on terrorism and the other to a media law on Oct. 23, just hours before dozens of heavily armed attackers burst into a Moscow theater and took more than 800 people hostage. Special forces stormed the theater three days later, killing 41 of the attackers. At least 119 of the hostages died, the vast majority felled by a fentanyl compound that troops used to incapacitate the terrorists.

The changes, which must still be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin, would prohibit the media from distributing information that hinders counter-terrorist operations or reveals information about security forces and tactics.

Rwanda: Rare gorillas killed

Poachers killed at least two rare mountain gorillas and snatched a young female in eastern Congo, Rwandan officials and conservationists said Friday.

Authorities found two bodies on Oct. 26 when poachers led them to the site, admitting they had killed the animals and taken the female, said Rwandan police spokesman Tony Kuramba. Later, two more dead gorillas were found, and authorities were trying to determine if all four deaths were linked.

Only about 650 of the animals are still alive, and the survival of some may be threatened by a civil war in Congo.

The area where the gorillas died is in the Virunga Mountains, a chain of extinct volcanoes that straddles the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and Congo,

The poachers were arrested early last month after three men were caught by police trying to sell the young female for $20,000, said Francois Bizimungu, an official at Rwanda's national park authority.

Tokyo: Japan eyes changes to its no-war policy

Japanese lawmakers received a parliamentary report Friday that raised the traditionally taboo issue of scrapping a clause in the constitution that renounces war.

The supreme law, written by U.S. occupation forces after World War II, is a cornerstone of Japanese democracy and has not been amended since its 1947 adoption.

But after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a growing number of Japanese lawmakers have expressed interest in changing Article 9, the section that renounces Japan's right to wage war.

The report presented Friday outlined the pros and cons of changing the constitution but did not give recommendations.

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