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India is warned before test-firing of missile


ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan yesterday test-fired the most advanced missile in its arsenal, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead deep inside rival India. Although advance word to India averted a crisis, the launch of the Shaheen 2 is a vivid reminder of the stakes at play as South Asia's traditional enemies try to cement a fragile peace. The missile has a range of 1,250 miles, meaning it could easily hit several major Indian cities. The timing seemed linked to internal Pakistani politics, with President Pervez Musharraf facing anger over an investigation into a black market run by rogue Pakistani scientists that allegedly sold nuclear know-how to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. (AP)


Ferry lost in cyclone; about 100 feared dead

ANTANANARIVO -- About 100 people were feared dead off Madagascar yesterday after a ferry went missing in a cyclone which swept the Indian Ocean island over the weekend. Nothing had been heard from the ferry, named Samson, since Sunday, and it failed to reach port on Monday, said shipping companies in the northwestern town of Mahajanga. Madagascar's state radio said 25 people were killed in Cyclone Gafilo, many of them drowned after being swept away by sudden floods, and at least 50,000 were left homeless in what was likely to be the nation's worst cyclone in 10 years. (Reuters)


Genetically modified corn OK'd for planting

LONDON -- The British government yesterday approved the commercial cultivation of a type of genetically modified corn, but said the planting would be under strict rules and the first crop would be at least a year away. The use of genetically engineered crops is increasing worldwide and is widespread in the United States, but many European nations have balked at the technology amid public fears about potential long-term environmental and health effects of biotechnology. (AP)


Protests will continue, rights activists say

DAMASCUS -- Syrian human rights activists said yesterday that they will continue their barely tolerated activities after at least two dozen people were detained at a rare protest Monday seeking to end the country's four-decade-old emergency law. The activists were quickly released, but the incident, during which a US diplomat and two Western journalists also were detained, could hardly have come at a worse time for US-Syrian relations. President Bush is expected to decide within weeks which sanctions to place on Syria under a law that Congress passed last year to punish Damascus for its support of terrorist groups, development of weapons of mass destruction, and troop presence in neighboring Lebanon. (Knight Ridder)


Prime minister takes lead in Olympics effort

ATHENS -- Greece's new prime minister took personal control yesterday of Athens' troubled preparations for the Summer Olympics, naming himself the government's point man on the games. Announcing his new Cabinet, Costas Caramanlis said he would lead the culture ministry, which is in charge of building and renovating numerous venues for the games -- including a much-delayed project to build a roof over the Olympic Stadium. His decision reflected the extreme urgency about finishing preparations before the Aug. 13-29 games. (AP)


Elite police agents strike, halting probes

BRASILIA -- More than 8,000 Brazilian federal police agents started an indefinite strike yesterday to demand higher pay, a move that suspended key investigations across the crime-ridden country, union leaders said. The strike by Brazil's elite police force, which carries out the country's main investigative work into organized crime, controls borders, and runs immigration services at airports, could test the center-left government's will to control public employees' wages. (Reuters)

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