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Archive for Saturday, March 1, 2003

Briefly

March 1, 2003

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Czech Republic: New president elected

Czech lawmakers narrowly elected opposition candidate Vaclav Klaus president Friday in the nation's third attempt to choose a successor to Vaclav Havel.

Klaus won 142 votes in the 281-member Parliament, barely surpassing the simple majority needed for a victory. Ruling coalition candidate Jan Sokol received 124 votes, said Lubomir Zaoralek, speaker of the lower chamber of Parliament.

One lawmaker was absent and 14 abstained during the third round of secret balloting.

Havel's last term in office ended Feb. 2. The dissident playwright, who led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that peacefully toppled the communist regime, was barred by the constitution from seeking a third term.

London: McDonald's to sell fruit at British outlets

Stung by criticism that its food is laden with fat and salt, McDonald's said Friday its British restaurants would be the first in the world to sell fresh fruit.

Starting in April, grapes and sliced apples will be sold in 2.3-ounce bags for 95 cents, the company said.

McDonald's is also adding a new fruit juice with "no extra sugar" to its Happy Meals for children and a 266-calorie pasta salad with less than 5 percent fat to its salad menu.

It was not immediately clear whether the juice and salad would be sold at restaurants outside Britain.

Atlanta: Carter to guide debate about Georgia flag

Former President Carter will help lead a public discussion of whether Georgia should again enlarge the Confederate emblem on its state flag, Gov. Sonny Perdue said Friday.

Details of such a meeting had not been worked out, said Perdue, who campaigned last fall on a promise to let residents vote on the flag's design. The ballot would not be binding.

The flag issue has been brewing in Georgia for years. The banner had included a large Confederate emblem until two years ago, when the Legislature reduced it to a tiny square.

Supporters of the emblem say it reflects Southern heritage, while opponents say it represents racism and slavery.

Colorado: Air Force secretary says charges unlikely

The Air Force will probably not reopen criminal cases as it investigates reports that female cadets' rape allegations were mishandled, the secretary of the Air Force said Friday.

"If we have a case that warrants opening and that would be legal to do, we would do it," James Roche said. But he said the investigation into how academy officials handled the allegations would more likely produce "a lot of constructive criticism" on how things could be improved.

The scandal flared earlier this year. Since then, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said eight female cadets and 12 others who left the academy told his office they were disciplined for minor infractions after reporting they were sexually assaulted by upperclassmen.

Roche said a task force found academy officials did not give cadets who reported abuse the information they needed.

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