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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

Briefly

February 14, 2003

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Bolivia

Police back on job after strike, riots

Striking police officers returned to work Thursday after two days of violent street protests that left 22 people dead and a trail of burned and looted buildings throughout the capital of South America's poorest nation.

People lined the streets of La Paz to cheer police officers as they began to restore order. Demonstrators set fire to government buildings and looted stores in a wave of violence that began as a protest against a new income tax, which the government suspended to calm the unrest.

La Paz fell into chaos Wednesday after most of the city's 7,000 police walked off their posts and led protests that degenerated into the violent riots.

Beijing

Chinese television plans 24-hour channel

China has approved plans for state television to create a 24-hour news channel, a spokesman said Thursday, setting the stage for tension between the government's strict media controls and mounting competitive pressures in the delivery of broadcast news.

China Central Television is still planning the service and hasn't set a launch date.

It was not clear how such a service would work, given the communist government's longtime obsession with controlling the media.

CCTV's main newscasts are heavily political, focusing on the daily activities of leaders and promoting ideological campaigns.

A manager of CCTV's news department said plans called for the channel to be available worldwide.

Vatican City

Vatican opens archives in support of Pius XII

For years the Vatican has struggled to defend its wartime pope, Pius XII, against claims he was anti-Semitic and didn't do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust.

Now the Vatican is taking the extraordinary step of opening part of its secret archives ahead of schedule, in a bid to silence attacks against a man it is considering for sainthood. Starting Saturday, millions of Vatican documents from the years leading up to World War II will be available to scholars.

The Vatican's chief archivist says he doesn't expect any "shocking revelations" to emerge from the documents -- and it will no doubt be months if not years before any findings are published.

But Roman Catholic and Jewish scholars say the papers may answer some questions about the policies that shaped Pius' papacy and what the Vatican knew about anti-Semitism in Europe before the war.

Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims prepare to leave at end of hajj

In waves of thousands, Muslim pilgrims completed the ritual stoning of the devil Thursday as they wrapped up the annual hajj.

No serious incidents were reported Thursday. But on Tuesday 14 pilgrims were trampled to death.

The faithful were expected to pay a farewell visit to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, near Mina. Some also will visit Medina, where the prophet Muhammad is buried, before heading home.

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