RIOT IN FLORIDA: At least 11 people were injured and 20 arrested in the resort city of St. Petersburg during a night of street violence provoked by the police shooting of a black motorist. Angry crowds looted stores, burned businesses and threw rocks and bottles at riot squads. Police said two white officers, a man and a woman, had stopped a black motorist in a black neighborhood. Some witnesses claimed the woman officer shot the motorist without provocation, but police said his car had lurched towards the officers. State authorities were investigating.
A new refugee crisis in Zaire
Aid workers said they feared a new genocide in Central Africa as fighting in Zaïre blocked food to tens of thousands of refugees. Nearly 300,000 of the 1.3 million Rwandan and Burundian Hutus camped in Zaire were fleeing fighting between local Banyamulenge Tutsi rebels and the Zairean army. Many told harrowing tales after walking for days. “There were women giving birth on the road and old people collapsing from exhaustion,” said Georges Nzohikera, a Hutu from Burundi. Sadako Ogata, the UN high commissioner for refugees, made a radio appeal in an attempt to lure some of the wanderers back to their homes in Rwanda. About 1.1 million refugees fled to Zaïre from Rwanda in 1994 during the genocide that left some 500,000 dead. The exiles have refused international appeals for them to return, apparently fearing reprisals.
By week’s end, the Banyamulenge Tutsi rebels were close to taking the city of Uvira. The Banyamulenge, who migrated to Zaïre 200 years ago, are fighting for control of the Kivu region and for citizenship, which they were denied in 1981. President Mobutu Sese Seko, meanwhile, has been in Switzerland since August getting treatment for cancer, fuelling fears that the revolt could lead to the breakup of Zaire. Rwanda and Burundi, which both have Tutsi-led armies, denied aiding the rebels.
The Pope gives the nod to Charles Darwin
Pope John Paul II has given a major boost to teachers of the theory of evolution by making clear that the Catholic Church can live with it. He told a lay scientific group that the ideas first put forth by Charles Darwin in 1859 are “more than just a hypothesis.” But while the human body may have evolved from earlier organisms, he said, “the spiritual soul is immediately created by God.” The Vatican has never condemned Darwin’s theories, but it had expressed concern that his “hypothesis” could promote atheism. The Pope’s new statement may affect debates over teaching evolution in schools, which is often opposed by fundamentalist Protestants.
CHIRAC REACHES OUT
The Arab world has a new hero after French President Jacques Chirac’s five-country Middle East tour. Chirac called for a Palestinian state, an Israeli return of land to Syria and Lebanon, an easing of the economic stranglehold on Iraq and more Western understanding of Islam. He is now the most popular European leader in Arab countries since Charles de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.
In the wake of Japan’s inconclusive election, analysts expected lengthy talks before Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto can form a new government. His pro-business Liberal Democratic Party scored major gains, but fell 12 seats short of a majority. The leftleaning Social Democrats, which could return as a coalition partner, demanded a ban on corporate political donations, which would be anathema to the long-ruling LDP.
CHALLENGE IN NICARAGUA
It will be weeks before there is an official winner of Nicaragua’s election. Former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega challenged a preliminary count that gave an 11 -point lead to right-winger Arnold Alemán, who has declared victory. Ortega’s charge of “serious irregularities” raised fears of unrest after an enthusiastic 80-per-cent voter turnout. But few analysts believe the final count will reverse Alemán’s victory.
AMAD COW LINK
A British study found a link between mad cow disease and the CreutzfeldtJakob brain disease, bolstering the view that humans can get the illness from eating infected beef. The European Union said its ban on British beef will last until Prime Minister John Major honors a deal to slaughter nearly 150,000 cattle. But Major refused, calling British beef “perfectly safe.”
O.J. GOES BACK TO COURT
A neighbor of O. J. Simpson’s slain wife Nicole Brown testified that he saw a vehicle like Simpson’s white Ford Bronco near Brown’s home around the time she and her friend Ron Goldman were murdered. The witness appeared in the first week of a civil suit against the former football star, who was acquitted on criminal charges a year ago.
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