Jordan's king goes undercover to hear citizens...

Foreign Digest

July 30, 1999

Jordan's king goes undercover to hear citizens' complaints

AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan's King Abdullah, showing glimpses of the common touch that made his father, King Hussein, hugely popular, dressed up as an old man to investigate operations at a duty-free zone.

The monarch, who assumed the throne in February, listened to complaints and harsh criticisms of a bloated bureaucracy. "How can an application take four days to process when there are 40 customs officials at 40 windows?" one investor was quoted as saying.

After nearly five hours, the king removed his disguise and left, leaving behind shocked citizens and officials, newspapers said yesterday.

Clinton to skip U.N. opening in deference to Yom Kippur

UNITED NATIONS -- President Clinton is refusing to speak at the opening session of the annual U.N. General Assembly debate because it falls on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Although as host the American president usually speaks on the first day, Clinton will speak on the second, Sept. 21.

American envoys at the United Nations had attempted for months to get the start of the session postponed but failed after the 15-member European Union dropped the issue. The United Nations has never acknowledged any Jewish holidays as it does Christian and Muslim holy days.

Iraqi farmer discovers slab from grave of ancient king

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A tombstone slab engraved with cuneiform inscriptions, found by an Iraqi farmer, is shedding new light on the life and deeds of Sennacherib, one of Assyria's greatest monarchs.

"The stele depicting the king in full regalia is the third of its kind to be found so far," said Nawal al-Mutwali, a language expert at the Iraq Museum, which displayed the find Thursday. The other two are in museums abroad.

Located 250 miles north of Baghdad, Sennacherib's Nineveh now falls within the sprawling Iraqi city of Mosul.

Man gets life sentence in killing of reporter

DUBLIN -- A drug dealer was sentenced to life in prison yesterday in the 1996 murder of Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin, the second such sentence in the killing that prompted an unprecedented crackdown on organized crime in Ireland.

Prosecutors said Brian Meehan, 34, drove the motorcycle from which his passenger pumped six bullets into the award-winning reporter as she waited at traffic lights en route to testify in court.

Guerin had been resolute in her coverage despite having been attacked several times before. She was shot in the thigh while at her Dublin home in January 1995, and was beaten up in September that same year.

Conservation group buys southern-most Canadian land

TORONTO -- Canada's southern-most speck of land has been bought by a Canadian conservation group from the estate of an American businessman. The Nature Conservancy of Canada bought 7-acre Middle Island, just south of Pelee Island, Wednesday for $866,250 at an auction.

Myanmar frees girl, 3, daughter of activist

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Myanmar officials freed a 3-year-old girl described as the world's youngest prisoner of conscience, Amnesty International said yesterday.

Thaint Wunna Khin was one of 19 people detained this month by authorities to stop an anti-government protest in the central city of Bago, according to Amnesty.

She is the daughter of opposition activist Kyaw Wunna, whom police have been unable to catch. His wife and six other relatives were picked up in the sweep.

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