World Watch

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Following an outbreak of swine fever in Britain — still shaken by the consequences of "mad cow disease" — the European Commission banned exports of live pigs and pig semen from England until Aug. 31. So far, animals in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not covered by the ban, imposed pending a full report by British veterinary experts. It comes amid renewed fears in Europe about food and farm safety, and follows announcements by Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands that they would prohibit importation of British hogs. The U.S. and Canada also imposed controls on British pigs, meat and related products. Thousands of hogs have been slaughtered following the outbreak of the disease, which is highly contagious and fatal to pigs, but cannot be transmitted to humans.

In response to an upsurge in neo-Nazi violence, the German government announced support for programs to fight racism and anti-Semitism. Departing from previous concepts, which used funds to resocialize neo-Nazis, the cabinet opted to spend $35 million on local projects that encourage young citizens to stand up against far-right extremists and to effectively oppose them in everyday life. Among the measures, all public transport will be equipped — as of Sept. 1 — with a telephone hotline for alerting police to threatening behavior by "skinheads" and a $4.7 million fund is to help victims of far-right violence.

Four NATO soldiers and six civilians were injured after a surprise raid to shut a Serb-run smelting plant that U.N. officials say is polluting the northern Kosovo region with lead emissions 200 times greater than acceptable World Heath Organization levels. Pro-testing the nato raid at the Trepca mining complex, in which British peacekeepers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, thousands of angry Serbs later marched in their area of the nearby ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica. U.N. administrators say they will spend $16 million to refurbish the plant before reopening it. At week's end, an explosion rocked Pristina, the provincial capital, damaging offices in a building run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is tasked with building democracy in Kosovo.

After a six-week lull, U.S. and British jets renewed air attacks on sites in the northern and southern no-fly zones of Iraq, asserting that Iraqi gunners had first opened fire on the allied planes. The zones have been patrolled since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Iraq maintained that the latest targets were civilian and had resulted in casualties. In Baghdad, meanwhile, Saddam International Airport was reopened, though it is still without commercial flights, passengers or cargo after 10 years of U.N. sanctions.

Encouraged by President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, some 2,000 Somalis — religious leaders, clan elders, peace activists, businesspeople and others — gathered to form the fragile beginnings of a central government for Somalia. Since opposition factions ousted the regime of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991 — and then turned on each other — the country has had no central authority. Rather, a handful of warlords has sliced the country up into personal fiefdoms. While a dozen previous efforts to set up a government have failed, the latest move is the first to involve civic and religious leaders, not just militia chiefs. Growing from talks that began last May in Arta, in neighboring Djibouti, the new 225-member Somali legislature will continue to meet to elect a president, who will then appoint a prime minister. With no tax base and little in the way of infrastructure, the eventual government faces an overwhelming task.

As fighting continued in the Democratic Republic of Congo, African leaders ended talks in Zambia with no new agreement on measures to revive the 1999 Congolese cease-fire accord. President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, the chief mediator, said his Congolese counterpart, Laurent Kabila, was still refusing to permit the unhindered deployment of U.N. monitors. He also has resisted the Organization for African Unity's choice of former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana as the "facilitator" between Kabila's regime and anti-government guerrillas, saying Masire is biased. The rebels — supported by Uganda and Rwanda — took up arms in 1998. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia back Kabila.

Hundreds of North and South Koreans, separated for half a century, met long-lost relatives in emotional four-day exchange visits to Seoul and Pyongyang. In scenes of joy and grief, they hugged, wept and shared family news in the first reunions growing from last June's landmark summit meeting between North and South Korea. The reunions, the first permitted since 1985, raised the hopes of millions of Koreans for eventual national reconciliation. The rare exchange allowed 100 South Koreans — mostly elderly people chosen by lottery — to visit family members in the North, while 100 North Koreans — ruling party loyalists prominent in various fields — joined relatives living in the South.

Dashing negotiators' optimism that a four-month hostage situation in the Philippines was about to end, Abu Sayyah guerrillas pulled back from any agreement at the weekend, reportedly fearing a military attack once their 25 known captives were freed. Negotiations also have been complicated by the Philippine government's "all or nothing" stance. Manila's negotiators said the rebels had offered to free any two captives, but that offer was rejected. In its ongoing effort to improve its international profile, Libya has taken a key role in the negotiations. Press reports have said Libya has offered millions of dollars in ransom for the release of the remaining hostages — who included 12 Westerners — but Tripoli has denied that. Thirteen Filipinos also are being held, and there has been no further word of three Malaysians reportedly freed on Friday.

Burnt Church
Native Canadians from the Mi'kmaq community in Burnt Church, a reservation in New Brunswick, blockaded a coastal highway and set 200 new lobster traps in Miramichi Bay in defiance of federal fishing regulations. The confrontation stems from a dispute over the rights of the Mi'kmaq to catch lobsters — a lucrative industry in the country — with unlicensed traps. Four Mi'kmaq fishermen were arrested and 748 lobster traps were seized by authorities at Burnt Church, while tensions between native and non-native fishermen are running high. Four Indian Brook natives also were arrested and 85 traps were confiscated near New Edinburgh, Nova Scotia. A year ago, the Supreme Court granted natives the right to fish in order to earn a "moderate income," while still ceding regulatory control of the east coast fishery to the government for conservation purposes. While the government wants to allow the Mi'kmaq 40 traps, they want thousands of them to make their living.

Porto Velho
In the first verdicts delivered in the trial of 14 people accused of killing 10 squatters and two policemen in a 1995 land dispute, two Brazilian soldiers were found guilty of murder and sentenced to 18 and 16 years in prison. A third soldier was acquitted. Eleven other people, including two peasants accused of killing the policemen in the clashes — in the Amazonian town of Corumbiara, in Rondônia state — face similar charges when the trial continues this week. The violence erupted at a rural ranch when police moved in, under cover of darkness, to disperse 600 landless people who had seized and occupied the property. Land reform is a critical rural issue in Brazil, where the poorest 40% of the people own just 1% of the land. Although 12 people were killed in the Corumbiara clashes, the court ruled there was only enough evidence to try the defendants for six deaths.

Venezuela's newly elected unicameral Congress was sworn in, ending eight months of legislative limbo since the new constitution was approved in a referendum last December. The 165-seat legislature, dominated by President Hugo Chávez Frías' Fifth Republic Movement, faces the task of writing and passing some 340 new laws stemming from the constitution. Chávez has targeted 40 as priorities, including social security reform, land use and indigenous people's rights, to be approved by year's end. The Congress also must appoint heads of some government departments, including the attorney general and the comptroller general.