French commandos stormed two Greenpeace ships and arrested two divers who were protesting French plans to carry out nuclear tests in the South Pacific. International outrage over the blasts has led to widespread diplomatic censure of France, which is ending a self-imposed three-year ban with its program of up to eight underground detonations before next May. Hundreds more protested around the world, including New Zealand, where 98 per cent oppose the tests.
VIOLENCE IN PUNJAB
Sikh militants have been blamed for a powerful car bomb that killed the chief minister of Punjab and 12 others. Beant Singh, 73, who devoted his political career to fighting Sikh separatists, died after his armored car blew up. The blast, which also injured 23 people, was the worst such incident in two years, raising fears of a new wave of violence in the Indian state.
Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze announced that an attempt on his life would not stop him from running for president of the Caucasian republic. The former Soviet foreign minister was injured when a car bomb exploded outside the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi. A day later, Shevardnadze told thousands of supporters that he will seek office in a November election. Meanwhile, police arrested 10 men in connection with the bombing.
MEXICANS BACK REBELS
Most Mexicans who voted in a referendum want to see the shadowy Zapatista rebels form a political party. Subcommandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, spearheaded the referendum from his hideout in the jungle. A million people responded, with 60 per cent supporting the idea of a party. The Zapatistas, who began an uprising 21 months ago in the southern state of Chiapas, have vowed not to lay down their arms until the government has signed a peace treaty. Peace talks have been stalled for months.
WARNING ON HEART DRUG
A U.S. federal health agency issued a warning on a medication widely prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, after reviewing safety studies. Patients who take high doses (80 mg a day or more) of short-acting nifedipine—-a type of calcium channel blocker sold in Canada as capsules under the brand name Adalat—should consult their doctors, said officials.
Standing up for women’s rights
Participants in the world’s largest-ever women’s conference defied Chinese authorities, staging protests against human-rights abuses and oppression of women. The Chinese government announced that it would allow demonstrations by the 50,000 delegates to two UN-sponsored conferences, in Beijing and the nearby city of Huairou, but only if they were held in a designated sports arena and did not criticize Chinese policy. But police failed to break up a series of public protests, apparently afraid that attempting to do so would cause an international outcry. Members of one human-rights group, Amnesty International, raised banners and photos of 11 female political prisoners, including two in China. And 10 Tibetan women, their mouths gagged with scarves, carried out a silent demonstration against Chinese rule in their country. “We felt that it would be effective to tape our mouths to reflect an environment where we don’t feel free to speak,” said Tenki Davis, a member of the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet.
Security officials videotaped the women and took notes, but there were no arrests. The successful protests emboldened those attending a forum of nongovernmental organi-
zations that coincides with the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. Said Amnesty International’s secretary general, Pierre Sane: ‘We have not been silenced anywhere in the world, and we will not be silenced in China.”
0. J. tapes barred
Jurors in the O. J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles will hear only two of 59 excerpts of recorded audiotape that defence lawyers hoped would discredit a key prosecution witness, Mark Fuhrman. Judge Lance Ito ruled that only two statements made by the former Los Angeles police detective during taped conversations with an aspiring North Carolina screenwriter were relevant to the case. In the two extracts that Ito ruled the jury may hear, Fuhrman describes African-Americans as “niggers,” a word he had sworn under oath that he had not used in the past 10 years. Another 39 such references were ruled inadmissible. The detective is also heard advocating the use of violence by police. Simpson’s lawyers called Ito’s ruling “racist” and said they would not abandon their strategy of painting Fuhrman as a black-hating cop who framed Simpson.
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