Archive for Saturday, December 25, 2004

Briefly - World

December 25, 2004



Candidate urges law and order in vote

Opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko called on the government Friday to prevent any violence in this weekend's crucial presidential repeat vote, as the two campaigns rallied their supporters on the final day of campaigning.

In Kiev, rumors are swirling that Cossacks and miners from mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine are readying to disrupt Sunday's vote or head to Kiev in case of a Yushchenko victory.

Campaign officials for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who draws most of his support from eastern Ukraine, have repeatedly denied the allegations. Law enforcement officials have said they would maintain law and order during the rerun.


Artifact touted as relic of temple a forgery

An ivory pomegranate long touted by scholars as the only relic from Solomon's Temple is a forgery, the Israel Museum said Friday, as investigators said they had broken up several fake antiquity rings in a wide-ranging investigation.

Indictments in that investigation are to be handed down next week, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

A team of experts found the thumb-sized pomegranate dates to the Bronze period, or about 3,400 years ago, meaning it is considerably older than the first Jewish Temple, and the inscription was added recently, the museum said in a statement.

The inscription, in ancient Hebrew lettering, reads: "Belonging to the Temple of the Lord (Yahweh), holy to the priests."

The temple was built in the 6th century B.C. and expanded by Herod before being destroyed in the year 70. Today, the Dome of the Rock -- a Muslim shrine that is part of the Al Aqsa complex -- is located near the site of ancient temple.


Cargo ship blasts off for space station

A Russian cargo ship carrying badly needed food supplies for a U.S.-Russian crew on the international space station blasted off early Friday from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

The Progress M-51 took off from the Russian-leased launch pad in the steppes of Kazakhstan and entered orbit 124 miles above the earth about nine minutes later, Russia's Federal Space Agency said in a statement.

The ship was scheduled to arrive at the station Sunday morning with about 2.5 tons of food, water, fuel and research equipment for Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao.

Russian and American space officials were alarmed earlier this month to learn that Sharipov and Chiao had gone through much of their food on the station. They were ordered to cut back on meals. A Russian Space Agency spokesman has said the two could be forced to return to Earth if the Progress does not reach the station.


Mobile version of missile tested

The Russian military successfully test-fired a mobile version of its top-of-the line Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday, officials said.

The missile was fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch pad in the northern region of Arkhangelsk and hit a designated target on a testing range on the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said.

Friday's launch was expected to be the last of four test-firings of the Topol-M's mobile version before its deployment set for next year, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The Topol-M missiles, capable of hitting targets more than 6,000 miles away, have been in silos since 1998 and about 40 are on duty now, according to military officials.

New Year's Eve partying approved by Polish clergy

Warsaw, Poland -- Poland's Roman Catholic church has given believers the go-ahead to party this New Year's Eve even though celebrations will fall on Friday, a day of penance and restraint.

The Rev. Jozef Kloch, a church spokesman, said Monday that although Catholics should normally exercise restraint on Fridays, the day Christ died, bishops and priests may grant parishioners dispensations this year.

Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic and the homeland of Pope John Paul II, and the church plays a powerful role in everyday life. Several priests have fielded questions from Catholics worried that it would be sinful to celebrate on Dec. 31.

"For many it is a serious problem," said the Rev. Jacek Dadela, of Warsaw's Holy Cross Church.

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