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The World Today

Palestinian cultural events disrupted

By The World Today
March 22, 2009
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JERUSALEM - Israeli authorities broke up a series of Palestinian cultural events in Jerusalem yesterday, disrupting a children's march and bursting balloons at a schoolyard celebration in a crackdown that underscored the emotional battle over control of the disputed holy city. Elsewhere in Jerusalem, hundreds of Israelis gathered outside the residence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to mark the 1,000th day in captivity of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian activists called for yesterday's celebrations to mark the Arab League's designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture for 2009. The 23-nation group chooses a different city for the honor each year. (AP)

South Korea
North says 2 US journalists detained
SEOUL - North Korea confirmed yesterday that it was holding two American journalists and accused the women of "illegally intruding" on its territory. The two were arrested March 17 after crossing the border with China, the Korean Central News Agency said. South Korean media and a South Korean missionary identified the two detained Americans as Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former vice president Al Gore's San Francisco-based media outlet Current TV. State Department officials said Washington is in contact with North Korea about the detentions. (AP)

Italy
Mass anti-Mafia demonstration held
NAPLES - Tens of thousands of people marched here yesterday to commemorate the victims of the Mafia and demand an end to the stranglehold of organized crime on southern Italy. Organizers said they expected 100,000 people from across Italy and 30 other countries to attend the rally, making it one of the biggest demonstrations against the powerful crime syndicates in recent years. Relatives of victims led the rally as the names of 900 people killed by the Mafia were read out through loudspeakers. The march was organized by Libera, an association of civil society groups involved in many anti-Mafia activities.

Belgium
US to back Danish PM as NATO head
BRUSSELS - The United States has told NATO allies it will back Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next head of the alliance, NATO diplomats and a US source said yesterday. Rasmussen already has the support of European heavyweights Germany, Britain, and France for the post of NATO secretary-general, but Washington had been considering backing Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay. A US source close to the administration of President Obama said Washington had indicated its acceptance of Rasmussen after National Security Adviser General James Jones visited him in Denmark this month. (Reuters)

Germany
Massacre victims are remembered
WINNENDEN - President Horst Koehler led thousands of Germans yesterday at an emotional remembrance service for the victims of a school massacre that left 16 dead. Ten days ago, 17-year-old student Tim Kretschmer shot dead 12 people at his former school and three more outside before killing himself when he was cornered by police. Schoolmates of the victims lit candles bearing their names at the service, which was broadcast for thousands to see at a nearby stadium and carried live on national television. The families of five schoolgirls killed in the attack wrote to Koehler, Chancellor Angela Merkel and their state premier calling for curbs on young people's access to weapons, a ban on violent video games, and less violence on television. (Reuters)

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