Aides come to Arafat’s side in France

With Yasser Arafat fighting for his life in a French hospital,
his top lieutenants will fly to Paris for consultations with his
doctors, a senior official said yesterday, as Palestinian leaders
worked to set up contingency plans in the event of the 75-year-old
leader’s death.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia or PLO deputy Mahmoud Abbas —
or possibly both — will go to France today, said Foreign
Minister Nabil Shaath, who was also going on the trip.

Arafat’s wife lashed out at his top lieutenants Monday,
accusing them of traveling to Paris with plans to
“bury” her husband “alive.” In a screaming
telephone call from Arafat’s hospital bedside, Suha Arafat
told pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television that she was issuing “an
appeal to the Palestinian people.” She accused his top aides
of conspiring to usurp her husband’s four-decade long role as
Palestinian leader.

Qureia and Abbas have been working together to run Palestinian
affairs in Arafat’s absence and to prevent chaos and violence
if the Palestinian leader dies. Qureia has taken on some of
Arafat’s executive and security powers, while Abbas has been
chairing meetings of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s
executive body.

Arafat’s condition remained a mystery yesterday, his fifth
day in intensive care at a French military hospital, amid
contradictory reports whether he is in a coma.



Number of women in prison growing fast

The number of women in state and federal prisons is at an
all-time high and growing fast, with the incarceration rate for
females increasing at nearly twice that of men, the government
reported yesterday.

There were 101,179 women in prisons last year, 3.6 percent more
than in 2002, the Justice Department said. That marks the first
time the women’s prison population has topped 100,000, and
continues a trend of rapid growth.

Overall, men are still far more likely than women to be in jail
or prison, and black men are more likely than any other group to be
locked up.

At the close of 2003, U.S. prisons held 1,368,866 men, the
Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. The total was 2 percent more
than in 2002.

Expressed in terms of the population at large, that means that
in 2003, one in every 109 U.S. men was in prison. For women the
figure was one in every 1,613.

Longer sentences, especially for drug crimes, and fewer
prisoners granted parole or probation are main reasons for the
expanding U.S. prison population, said Marc Mauer, assistant
director of the Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to
long prison terms for many kinds of crimes.


ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast

French retaliate against Ivory Coast strikes

France rolled out overwhelming military force yesterday to put
down an explosion of anti-French violence in its former West
African colony, deploying troops, armored vehicles and helicopter
gunships against machete-waving mobs that hunted house-to-house for

In the second of two stunning days that stood to alter
French-Ivory Coast relations — and perhaps Ivory Coast itself
— French forces seized strategic control of the largest city,
commandeering airports and posting gunboats under bridges in the
commercial capital, Abidjan.

French military helicopters swept in to rescue a dozen trapped
expatriates from the rooftop of a once-luxury hotel, flying them
and their luggage to safety.

The airstrike on the peacekeepers came after government forces
last week broke a cease-fire that had been in place for more than a
year and launched aerial bomb attacks on rebel positions.



Russians protest proposed end to holiday

Carrying the Soviet hammer-and-sickle flag and singing as they
marched, Russians marked the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik
Revolution yesterday in both a celebration of Soviet times and a
protest against a parliamentary proposal to scrap a once-revered
Soviet holiday.

At least 8,000 Communist Party backers and members of the
ultra-nationalist National Bolshevik party gathered at a square
once named for Vladimir Lenin and marched across Moscow toward a
statue of Karl Marx. They bore a giant portrait of Lenin and
banners proclaiming “U.S.S.R. — our

In Red Square, aging veterans wearing long, belted World War II
military coats marched in formation, retracing the steps they took
in 1941 when Soviets defiantly celebrated Revolution Day in spite
of the Nazi forces massed 33 miles outside Moscow.

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