Archive for Monday, July 11, 2005

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July 11, 2005

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Canada

Biplanes collide, killing both pilots

Two small biplanes simulating a World War I dogfight collided Sunday at an air show in central Canada, killing both pilots instantly.

Witnesses said one plane came from beneath and collided with the second craft. Both burst into flames and crashed. No spectators were hurt, but the air show in Moose Jaw, about 120 miles north of the Montana border, was immediately canceled.

The pilots were members of the U.S.-based Masters of Disaster civilian aerobatics team. A third plane involved in the dogfight simulation landed safely.

Clive Tolley, executive director of the air show, said Canada's Transport Safety Board would be arriving today to launch an investigation into the crash.

Some relatives of the dead pilots had been at the air show and were taken to a nearby military base while officials tried to notify family members in the United States.

Additional information on the pilots was not immediately available.

Berlin

German opposition pledges revived U.S. ties

Germany's opposition aims to oust Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder with a program to boost Europe's largest economy and "reinvigorate" relations with the United States, according to a draft obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

The program, to be formally endorsed today by the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, includes an increase in sales tax and looser rules for companies to hire and fire staff. It also rules out Turkish membership in the European Union.

The parties also are trying to win back voters by invoking Germany's strained relations with Washington. Schroeder ran for re-election in 2002 on a platform opposing the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and Bush pointedly refused to offer the traditional congratulations to him on his victory.

Germany's conservatives have been careful not to back the war - sending troops to Iraq would be deeply unpopular - but insist only a change of government can heal the rift with Washington.

The conservatives, led by Angela Merkel, have opened a wide lead in opinion polls ahead of the expected September election, raising the prospect of defeat for Schroeder's center-left government after seven years in office.

South Africa

Edmund Hillary joins call to protect Everest

Edmund Hillary, the first climber to conquer Mount Everest with his Sherpa guide, today urged that the world's highest mountain be placed on the United Nations' list of endangered heritage sites because of the risks of climate change.

Himalayan lakes are swelling from the runoff of melting glaciers, environmental campaigners warned as the 29th session of the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee got under way Sunday in Durban. Many could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying Everest's unique environment, they said.

Hillary, who with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first scaled the world's highest peak on May 29, 1953, is one of a collection of climbers and others who have joined environmental groups in calling for the inclusion of Nepal's Everest National Park on UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger List.

Philippines

Leaders stop short of asking Arroyo to quit

The Philippines' Roman Catholic bishops, who have played a major role in toppling two presidents, gave lukewarm support Sunday to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as she faced calls to resign over an election scandal.

The long-awaited statement by the nation's Catholic Bishops Conference may ease the pressure on Arroyo, who looked increasingly isolated after 10 Cabinet members quit Friday and urged her to step down. Arroyo has defiantly refused and challenged the opposition to file an impeachment case instead of trying to force her to quit.

"We do not demand her resignation," the bishops said in a statement. "Yet, neither do we encourage her to simply dismiss such a call from others."

Political commentator Benito Lim said the statement strengthened Arroyo's position.

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