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World Briefing


Tens of thousands of public sector workers took to the streets of Paris Tuesday, as part of a massive one-day work stoppage. Public transport was crippled and air travel was brought to a near standstill. The strike protested government plans to privatize industries, reform the country's pension system, and cut spending.

President Bush has apologized to the South Korean people for the deaths of two South Korean girls struck by a U-S military vehicle in June. Dozens of demonstrators broke into a U.S. military base in South Korea Tuesday to protest the acquittal of two American soldiers involved in the deaths. Last week, the two U.S. soldiers were found not guilty of negligent homicide in connection with the deaths.

Two major fires are continuing to burn aboard ships outside Tokyo and Hong Kong, while China says it has contained an oil spill from a tanker off northern China. In Japan, authorities say a freighter with nearly four thousand vehicles on board burst into flames early Tuesday just off the island of Izu Oshima.

Spain and France have agreed to impose new restrictions on ships carrying dangerous cargo off their coastlines, one week after an oil tanker spilled tons of fuel oil off the coast of Spain. Most of the cargo went down with the wreck, but a large amount of oil escaped and has polluted at least 400 kilometers of Spain's coastline, causing serious environmental damage and crippling the Spanish fishing industry.

Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and his conservative People's Party have scored a big win in national elections, but the makeup of a new coalition government in Vienna will await the outcome of political talks set for this week. The far-right Freedom Party, the conservatives' partner in the outgoing government, was the big loser in Sunday's vote. The People's Party won more than 42 percent of the vote and finished ahead of the opposition Social Democrats for the first time in 36 years. Support for Joerg Haider's anti-immigration Freedom Party plummeted to 10 percent, a 38-percent decline in three years.

President Bush has congratulated Ecuadorian President-elect Lucio Gutierrez on his victory in Sunday's run-off elections. President-elect Gutierrez is a retired Ecuadorian army colonel and former coup leader. President-elect Gutierrez received more than 54 percent of the vote. His opponent, millionaire businessman Alvaro Noboa, won almost 46 percent. The 45-year-old Mr. Gutierrez has pledged to fight corruption and said he would form a government of national unity.

There has been continued violence in Indian Kashmir. Police say three school children were killed Tuesday when a bomb they were playing with exploded. Indian authorities say an Islamic militant group is responsible for Sunday's attack on a Hindu temple complex in Indian-controlled Kashmir that left at least 13 people dead.

A state in northern Nigeria has issued an Islamic death sentence--or fatwa--against the author of an article that sparked rioting over the Miss World beauty contest. The author wrote an article in a Nigerian newspaper suggesting the prophet would have chosen a Miss World contestant to be his wife. An official in mostly Muslim Zamfara State said the principles of Islam dictate that anyone who insults the Prophet Mohammed be sentenced to death. The article triggered violent clashes between Muslims and Christians that killed more than 200 people. Nigeria was set to hold the beauty pageant, but it has since been moved to London.

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