World, Nation Briefs: Attack by U.S. Predator sparks Pakistani protests

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The furor intensified Friday over Washington’s decision to pursue Islamic militant targets inside Pakistan, with opposition lawmakers threatening the country could pull out of the war on terror if the U.S. refuses to respect its borders. About 100 protesters burned American flags after the latest missile attack left at least 12 people dead in the North Waziristan region of the troubled northwest. Residents said they heard the sound of U.S. Predator drones circling overhead before the explosions. President Bush secretly approved more aggressive cross-border operations in July, current and former American officials have said.

Japan: Date set for new carrier

Japan’s government on Friday welcomed the announcement that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington will arrive later this month at its new home base south of Tokyo. The George Washington, which can carry a crew of up to 5,600 and 70 aircraft, will replace the USS Kitty Hawk as the U.S. Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. It is to arrive on Sept. 25 at the port of Yokosuka.

Poland: Communists on trial

Poland’s last communist leader and other former top-ranking officials went on trial Friday for imposing martial law in 1981 as the Soviet-backed regime tried to crush the Solidarity pro-democracy movement. Prosecutors from a state body that investigates communist-era crimes, read out the indictment in a packed Warsaw regional court against retired Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, 85, and seven other ex-officials for their role in the crackdown that put tanks on Polish streets. If convicted, Jaruzelski could face up to 10 years in prison, and the others shorter terms.

Cuba: Hurricane death toll rises

Cuba raised its official death toll from Hurricane Ike to seven on Friday, announcing that three more people were killed after not following government evacuation orders. The island’s death toll from Ike — which hit eastern Cuba on Sunday and is now roaring toward Texas — was the highest for any storm in years, exceeding five deaths during Hurricane Michelle in 2001. A story published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma, signed by “Civil Defense’s National High Command,” largely blamed the victims for their own demises.

Germany: Mosque protest set

Far-right groups from around Europe plan to join German nationalists in a protest next week against plans for a large, new mosque in the city of Cologne. The protest, planned for Sept. 20, has triggered anger in the Middle East. Last week, the Iranian Foreign Ministry urged France, as the current European Union president, to block the planned gathering and complained it reflects a “growth of anti-Islamic sentiments in Europe.”

Colombia: Goya engraving stolen

Authorities said thieves have stolen an engraving by Spanish master Francisco de Goya that was part of a visiting exhibit in Bogota. The museum director said the small engraving was taken Thursday evening from the Gilberto Alzate Avendano Foundation. She pleaded Friday for the work’s return and called the robbery a “great sadness.” The work, titled “Sad Premonitions of What Must Happen,” is part of “Disasters of War,” a series of 80 engravings Goya made between 1810 and 1815.

California: Commuter train crash

A Los Angeles commuter train carrying 222 people during the afternoon rush collided with a freight train Friday, killing at least 10 people, injuring dozens and trapping an unknown number of others in a mangled passenger car imploded by its own engine. Police said the death toll was 10 to 20. Firefighters extinguished a blaze under part of the wreckage and were working hours after the collision to free people from the destroyed commuter car, which was left toppled on its side with the train’s engine shoved back inside it.

D.C.: GOP assails drilling proposal

House Republicans attacked a Democratic offshore drilling plan Friday for including a 50-mile coastal buffer that they said would leave untouched most of the 18 billion barrels of oil in waters now off-limits to energy companies. The Democratic drilling proposal expected to be taken up by the House next week would allow energy development access to waters 50 to 100 miles from shore along almost all of the country’s coastlines as long as a state agrees to drilling off its shore.

Hawaii: Surfer pries shark off

A surfer who put his fingers into the mouth of a shark to pry himself free during an attack said Thursday he believes the fish took no further interest in him because it didn’t like the taste of his leg. Todd Murashige, 40, said he was sitting on his board relaxing and didn’t see the shark before it bit him on the right thigh. “I didn’t see it at all. It just seemed so surreal, like it wasn’t real, just head of a shark right there in my lap,” he said. He was attacked Monday in waters off Oahu. “He just took a test bite and it wasn’t too good tasting,” he said.

From Herald news services

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