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Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

Briefly

July 31, 2003

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Philippines

Intelligence chief quits after failed mutiny

The Philippine military intelligence chief resigned Wednesday -- the first top official to step down after a failed mutiny by officers and soldiers demanding military reforms.

But Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus warned that the crisis surrounding the insurrection was far from over.

The mutineers made several allegations against Corpus, including accusing him of incompetence and involvement in a recent deadly bombing to justify more military aid from Washington.

Nearly 300 mutinous troops who seized a Manila shopping and apartment complex Sunday retreated peacefully after some 19 hours. No shots were fired during the standoff with government troops.

Corpus denied the charges against him, but said he was resigning to quell dissent. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accepted his resignation from the intelligence post, although he remains in the military.

Austria

OPEC increase in output unlikely

OPEC's president joined oil ministers from several of the cartel's member countries Wednesday in reinforcing expectations that they won't change crude output when meeting to reassess a market that seems to be going all their way.

With Iraq still struggling to restore its crude production and oil prices hovering near the top of the group's targeted price range, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries probably will wait until September to make any adjustments, OPEC President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah told reporters.

Tight oil inventories in the United States and other importing nations have strengthened OPEC's market position. Asked if OPEC needed to change its production at today's meeting in Vienna, Al-Attiyah said: "I don't think so."

London

British Airways, unions, settle labor dispute

British Airways and three unions on Wednesday settled a dispute that had prompted a wildcat strike at Heathrow airport on one of the summer's busiest travel weekends.

Both sides said they were pleased with the outcome.

The unions agreed to accept a new electronic clocking-in system by Sept. 1, while the airline agreed to separate that issue from talks on pay and promised not to use the new cards to reorganize shifts without further negotiation, as workers had feared.

Several hundred check-in workers walked out over two days earlier this month to protest the airline's plans to update its paper log-in system with electronic cards that staff could use to clock in and out of work.

The employees feared the new system was the first step toward radical changes to their work schedules.

Israel

Settlements lead population growth

The population in Jewish settlements in the West Bank -- a major focus of contention between Israelis and Palestinians -- grew three times as fast last year as in Israel as a whole, the Central Bureau of Statistics says.

The population of West Bank settlements grew by 5.7 percent in 2002, while the overall population of Israel and Jewish areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip grew by 1.9 percent, the bureau said.

The bureau put Israel's total population at the end of 2002 at 6,631,000. About 225,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank and another 8,000 in the Gaza Strip. Included in Israel's population are some 1.2 million Arabs.

Under the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan, Israel is obliged to stop construction in its 150 West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements and dismantle all the settlement outposts it has erected since March 2001.

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