Archive for Tuesday, March 1, 2005


March 1, 2005



Observers: election falls short of standards

International election observers Monday criticized Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections as falling short of democratic standards and urged authorities to change their ways ahead of second-round balloting in two weeks.

In Bishkek, a small number of opposition demonstrators scuffled with government supporters during a rally.

Early results from the Sunday vote showed more than half the contests for the 75 parliament seats heading for runoffs, leaving the political future unsettled for the ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia.

The election was widely seen as a key test for Kyrgyzstan's commitment to democracy ahead of October presidential elections.

Akayev, who has led Kyrgyzstan since 1990, is prohibited from seeking another term, but the opposition accused his supporters of plans to manipulate the vote so a compliant parliament would amend the constitution to allow a third term.


Lighters to be banned on airline flights

Airline passengers will have to ditch their lighters or lose them to airport security screeners when a new ban on lighters takes effect in April.

The ban reflects Congress' fear that lighters could be used to ignite bombs on planes or otherwise damage or destroy them. The Transportation Security Administration until now had banned all but butane lighters and said each passenger could carry no more than two.

TSA's new ruling extends the ban to all butane lighters, effective April 14.

Proponents of the ban, including Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., cited the case of convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who tried but failed to light explosives in his shoes with matches. Had Reid been using a lighter, he might have brought down the plane, Dorgan said. Reid was sentenced to life in prison in 2003.

The butane lighter ban is expected to streamline security procedures, because in the past screeners had to distinguish between butane lighters and types that were banned.

Guantanamo bay

High-ranking officers may be questioned

The Pentagon's Southern Command called in a senior Air Force officer Monday to take over an investigation into abuses of captives at the Guantanamo Bay prison, signaling that high-ranking U.S. military officers will be questioned.

Until Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt's appointment, two prison commanders were off-limits to investigators probing the scandal triggered by FBI agents' firsthand accounts of harsh treatment at the base in Cuba about two years ago.

The military forbids any officer from investigating one who is more senior. Furlow was outranked by two Army major generals who were responsible for interrogations in Cuba -- Geoffrey Miller and Michael Dunlavey.


Holocaust denier faces charges in Germany

Canadian authorities prepared to deport Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel back to his native Germany, and authorities there said Monday he faces arrest on charges of inciting racial hatred on his return.

Zundel, author of "The Hitler We Loved and Why," has been held in a Toronto jail for two years while authorities determined whether he posed a security risk to Canadian society.

Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais ruled Friday that Zundel's activities were a threat to national security and "the international community of nations."

Zundel's attorney, Peter Lindsay, said his client would not appeal and was expected to be deported as early as Tuesday.

Zundel, a leading proponent of white supremacy, claims the Holocaust never happened.

That's a crime in Germany and prosecutors in the southwestern city of Mannheim have issued a warrant for Zundel's arrest, the federal Justice Ministry told The Associated Press Monday.

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