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Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Briefly

November 3, 2004

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United Arab Emirates

Leader dies at age 86

The president of the United Arab Emirates, who oversaw the transformation of a cluster of tiny desert Persian Gulf sheikdoms into a leading oil and business hub with skyscrapers and shopping malls, has died. He was 86.

Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, one of the richest rulers in the world, according to Forbes magazine, forged close ties with the United States and the West during his rule of the country, which is the world's ninth-largest oil producer.

Sheik Zayed was expected to be succeeded by his eldest son, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The leaders of the seven emirates that make up the country will appoint the new president within 30 days.

In the meantime, the prime minister -- Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a close relative of Sheik Zayed -- will serve as acting president. During the president's illness, Sheik Maktoum has been the public face of the Emirates.

Netherlands

Filmmaker who criticized Islam slain

A Dutch filmmaker who got death threats after his movie sharply criticized how women are treated under Islam was stabbed and shot to death Tuesday on an Amsterdam street.

A suspect in the killing of Theo van Gogh was arrested after being wounded in a shootout with police. The 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan had a long beard and wore traditional Muslim garb, witnesses said.

Dutch Muslim groups condemned the slaying and called for reconciliation. They expressed fears of possible reprisals against Muslims.

Van Gogh, 47, a relative of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, was riding his bike when the suspect shot him twice, police said. Van Gogh stumbled away, and the suspect pounced, shooting him several more times at close range.

London

Lawmakers vote against spanking ban

After a passionate debate in the House of Commons, British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against banning parents from spanking their children.

Some lawmakers argued that even mild spanking should be outlawed and insisted children should have the same legal protection as adults when it comes to being hit.

But Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has shied away from an outright ban, fearing it will be accused of intruding into family affairs. Instead, ministers urged lawmakers to back legislation that would allow mild smacking but make it easier to prosecute parents who harm a child physically or mentally.

Lawmakers voted by 424-75 against an outright ban.

Japan

Accused Army deserter pleads guilty

Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins pleaded guilty early today to deserting the U.S. Army in 1965, saying that he wanted to avoid "hazardous" duty on the Korean peninsula and Vietnam.

The plea was apparently part of a bargain with U.S. military officials to win the frail 64-year-old a lesser sentence. Jenkins left his post and lived in North Korea for 39 years.

Jenkins also pleaded guilty to aiding the enemy by teaching North Koreans English in the 1980s. He denied that he advocated the overthrow of the United States and pleaded not guilty to charges of making disloyal statements.

Jenkins turned himself in to U.S. military authorities on Sept. 11, two months after he left Pyongyang to seek medical treatment in Japan.

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