MOSCOW

Environmental pact close to approval

Russia’s Cabinet approved the Kyoto Protocol yesterday in
a crucial step toward putting the long-delayed climate change
treaty into effect, although without participation by the United
States.

Final approval by the Russian parliament, which would push the
treaty past its required ratification threshold, was not
guaranteed, however. While the State Duma generally approves
legislation backed by President Vladimir Putin, many Russian
officials remain opposed to the pact, fearing its restrictions on
greenhouse gas emissions could hinder economic growth.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, on a trip to the Netherlands,
said he expected “difficult debate” when the Duma meets
to vote on ratification, possibly before the end of the year.

Putin’s economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, lamented the
Cabinet’s approval was “a political decision that will
damage national interests in many areas,” the ITAR-Tass news
agency reported.

The treaty, drafted in 1997 at a U.N. conference in Kyoto,
Japan, seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases
that are widely seen as a key factor behind global warming.

 

WASHINGTON

House rejects Bush’s gay marriage ban

The Republican-controlled House emphatically defeated a
constitutional amendment banning gay marriage yesterday, the latest
in a string of conservative pet causes pushed to a vote by GOP
leaders in the run-up to Election Day.

The vote was 227 to 186, far short of the two-thirds needed for
approval on a measure that President Bush backed but the Senate had
previously rejected.

“God created Adam and Eve, He didn’t create Adam and
Steve,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) on behalf of a
measure that supporters said was designed to protect an institution
as old as civilization itself. President Bush earlier this year
asked Congress to vote on the amendment, and Democrats contended
that in complying, Republicans were motivated by election-year
politics.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip, accused GOP
leaders of “raw political cynicism” and said they hoped
to “create the fodder for a demagogic political
ad.”

 

SCHEVENINGEN, Netherlands

U.S., EU agree to improve intelligence flows

Attorney General John Ashcroft and EU justice officials agreed
yesterday to improve the trans-Atlantic flow of intelligence to
help track down terrorists and prevent attacks.

Among new measures agreed during several hours of meetings here
was the exchange of liaison intelligence officers between the
continents.

The United States will send an agent from the FBI to the
European police agency Europol in The Hague, Netherlands, and the
EU will post two agents in Washington, said Antonio Vitorino, the
EU justice and home affairs commissioner.

The discussions came at the start of two days of talks between
EU justice and internal affairs ministers in the Netherlands, which
currently holds the EU presidency.

 

MINNEAPOLIS

General Mills switching to healthier cereal

General Mills is converting all of its breakfast cereals to
whole grain, making it the latest food company to undergo a
nutritional makeover amid calls by government and consumer groups
for healthier eating.

The move announced yesterday by the nation’s
second-largest cereal maker affects 29 cereals, including such
popular brands as Trix, Golden Grahams, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex.
The new recipes and packaging will be launched this month.

Several of the company’s brands, including Cheerios,
Wheaties, Total and Wheat Chex, are already whole grain. General
Mills officials said the switch is designed to make it easier for
consumers to eat healthy food and it had extensively tested the new
recipes on panels of consumers.

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