National and world news briefs

Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 10:19 p.m.
Irrigation board meets as deadline approaches EL CENTRO, Calif. - Facing a midnight deadline set by the U.S. government, a rural irrigation board met Tuesday to consider a deal to transfer water from desert farms to Southern California cities.
The federal government threatened to cut California's share of water from the Colorado River unless a water-sharing agreement was reached by the deadline.
Before the Imperial Irrigation District's closed-door meeting, board President Stella Mendoza said the panel was close to approval. But she said she would not let threats from the government force her to act hastily.

Rules for 'dolphin-safe' tuna labels are eased

WASHINGTON - Tuna caught along with dolphins may be labeled "dolphin safe" if it can be certified that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during the catch, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The ruling opens the way for Mexico and Ecuador to ship tuna to the United States.
The decision to soften the requirements for using the "dolphin-safe" label brought immediate criticism from environmentalists who say current international safeguards are insufficient to ensure that tuna was caught without harm to dolphins.
The action by the department's National Marine Fisheries Service came after the agency determined that while thousands of dolphins continue to be killed during tuna fishing, the losses pose no significant threat to the species.

Suspect from genocide believed living in Kenya

WASHINGTON - One of the most wanted war crimes suspects from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is believed to be living in Kenya under the protection of government officials there, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
Felicien Kabuga, an alleged financier of the genocide, has been using his personal wealth to buy protection from Kenyan authorities, said Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes.
Prosper said Kenyan informants have reported that Zakayo Cheruiyot, the permanent secretary for public administration and internal security, is among the Kenyan officials who have been providing protection to Kabuga.

Russian colonel charged in killing ruled insane

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia - A colonel who strangled a Chechen teenage girl was ruled insane Tuesday and absolved of criminal responsibility in a trial closely watched as an indication of Russia's resolve to discipline its troops in the rebellious province of Chechnya.
Col. Yuri Budanov was the first Russian military officer to be charged with abuses in Chechnya, where Russian forces have been fighting separatist rebels since September 1999. Chechens and human rights groups have complained that summary killings, rapes and looting are widespread.

Ethnic cleansing was considered in N. Ireland

LONDON - At the height of bloodletting in Northern Ireland, the British government considered trying to end the sectarian conflict by forcibly moving hundreds of thousands of Catholics to the Irish Republic, according to records released today.
But the top secret contingency plan - dated July 23, 1972 - was rejected out of concern it would not work unless the government was prepared to be "completely ruthless" in carrying it out, and that it would provoke outrage at home and abroad, especially in the United States.

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