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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

Briefly

June 3, 2004

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BEIJING

Report: Activists exiled before Tiananmen date

Three Chinese activists have been removed from their homes just ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, a human rights group said Wednesday.

The dissidents have been forced to stay in hotels outside Beijing, said the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Two other prominent activists, Liu Xiaobo and Jiang Yanyong, could no longer be contacted by telephone and may also have been taken away by authorities, it said.

Telephone calls to Liu's home were not answered. An answering machine picked up at Jiang's number.

Afghanistan

General: U.S. forces had bin Laden 'within reach'

U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan had Osama bin Laden "within reach" on at least two occasions but were unable to prevent him from slipping away, France's top general said Wednesday.

French chief of staff Gen. Henri Bentegeat, said the al-Qaida leader had evaded capture several times since 2002, but not recently. He didn't say where bin Laden had been tracked down, and refused to comment on whether French special forces operating in southern Afghanistan were involved.

"Between locating a person and arresting them there is a gap tied to all the uncertainties of all operations of this kind," Bentegeat told reporters during a visit to the Afghan capital.

Ontario

Anglicans delay action on blessing gay couples

Anglican Church of Canada delegates voted Wednesday night to delay action for three years on whether to authorize dioceses to provide blessings for same-sex couples.

But in a surprise move, liberal delegates asked the church to "affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships" whether or not formal blessing rituals occur.

Action on that measure was delayed until today. But voting on the procedural motion indicated that it could pass, a result that will possibly spark a controversy.

Brazil

Officials identify dead in gruesome prison riot

Authorities struggled Wednesday to identify the bodies and remains of 30 inmates killed -- and in some cases beheaded and dismembered -- during a brutal three-day uprising at a Rio de Janeiro prison.

Officials said 19 bodies at the Benfica detention center had been identified, but accounting for all the dead was difficult because body parts were strewn about the prison. Officials lowered the death toll to 31 from 38 as they identified the bodies, which also included a prison guard.

The violence ended Monday night after officials agreed to separate members from rival gangs who had used the chaos of the uprising to settle scores.

LONDON

Geographical society opens archive to public

There's Charles Darwin's sextant, Edmund Hillary's oxygen canister and Dr. Livingstone's hat.

They are among artifacts, available to the public for the first time, from the archives of the Royal Geographical Society, the 174-year-old British institution that sent explorers to the South Pole, up Mount Everest and in search of the source of the Nile -- and amassed one of the world's largest geographical archives.

The London-based society Tuesday will open an airy extension to its Victorian headquarters housing some 2 million records, maps, charts, books and photographs.

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