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UA News
Thursday September 13, 2001

News Briefs


Two Syrian activists detained, raising number of opposition arrests in recent weeks to 10

Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria - Two activists have been arrested in Syria, a human rights group said yesterday, raising to 10 the number of government opponents detained in recent weeks.

Haitham Maleh, head of the Human Rights Society in Syria, denounced the arrests of lawyers Habib Isa and Fawaz Tello, founding members of the group.

In a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Damascus, Maleh demanded that Syrian authorities stop the "serial arrests" and urged the release of "all political prisoners."

The statement did not say when the arrests took place. Calls to the human rights group's office went unanswered.

Authorities had no immediate comment on the arrest claim.

Since Aug. 7, police have detained eight others - two independent legislators, a senior Communist leader and five men who attended a political forum.

Dr. Kamal al-Labwani, was arrested, last week, after being lured from his house by officials pretending they needed him to examine a patient. He and four others were detained after attending a political salon hosted by lawmaker Riyad Seif, who is also in custody.

The salon attracted some 200 people who discussed political and economic issues affecting Syria. Syria has refused since last February to give permission for such gatherings.

Since taking office in July 2000, Syrian President Bashar Assad has relaxed the tight controls his late father, Hafez, imposed on Syria. Hundreds of political prisoners have been freed.

But his government has also cracked down on opponents and political discussion groups.


Alligator bites leg off of 81-year-old Florida man by canal in third fatal attack this year

Associated Press

SANIBEL, Fla. - An 11-foot alligator fatally attacked an elderly man walking his dog by a canal, biting off part of his leg in the third deadly alligator incident in Florida this year.

Robert Steele, 81, was declared dead at a hospital yesterday. Investigators believe he may have been trying to protect his dog when he was attacked, said Sanibel Police Cmdr. Bill Tomlinson.

Wildlife officials spotted the alligator less than an hour later and shot it in the head.

"We saw it surface on the other bank with the leg in his mouth," said Tomlinson. "It was pretty skittish because it had what it wanted."

Ellen Steele, 81, thought her husband was drowning in the canal when she heard his screams. She pulled him as far up the canal's bank as she could before calling 911.

"We live among alligators. We protect them. They have never attacked us before," she said.

Steele was the 13th person killed in a Florida alligator attack in the last 50 years; he was the third fatality this year.

In June, a 2-year-old wandered from her backyard to a nearby lake and was killed by an alligator. In May, the chewed body of a 70-year-old man was found floating in a pond with an 8-foot alligator circling nearby.


Arizona residents look for ways to help attack victims

Associated Press

PHOENIX - The students at Emerson Elementary School cut American flags out of the newspaper and hung them in their classroom windows yesterday.

Teachers wore red, white and blue clothing and left work early to give blood.

"We're trying to express our patriotism in any way we can," said Emerson Assistant Principal Garthanne De Ocampo.

Across the state, people gathered in groups - at parks, schools, blood banks and places of worship - looking for a way to help the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Carole Bartholomeaux, a lector at St. Joan of Arc church in Phoenix, stood in line for seven hours, Tuesday, to give blood.

"Everyone is feeling so helpless," she said. "To my knowledge, the only thing we can do is donate blood and pray."

So many Arizona residents lined up to give blood Tuesday and yesterday, officials asked some to come back later in the week.

The Tucson chapter of the American Red Cross opened a special blood drive at the Tucson Convention Center where 600 donors were expected each day through tomorrow.

Blood centers in Phoenix were scheduling donors for as much as two weeks ahead.

United Blood Services collected 1,300 pints at their eight locations in the Phoenix area, Tuesday - three times the amount from an average day - and the response continued yesterday.

The organization also opened public donation centers in Scottsdale and Tempe.

In Sierra Vista, county employees were excused from work to donate blood.

About 65 people lined up to donate, three times the normal number of donations.

Flagstaff Mayor Joe Donaldson asked people to leave their porch lights on through Sunday to commemorate the calamity and to wear a white ribbon or white cloth to indicate peace.



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