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UA News
Tuesday October 30, 2001

News Briefs


Floods in Honduras kill 2 people

Associated Press

Floods wreaked havoc along Honduras' Caribbean coast, killing two people and forcing about 600 others to take refuge from rising waters on rooftops and in trees yesterday.

Officials estimated that about 15,000 people had been forced from their homes by recent flooding in the northern provinces of Cortes, Atlantica, Colon and Gracias a Dios.

Three days of constant rain have sent several rivers over their banks. The government sent rescue workers to the area, but roads into the region were cut by flooding.

A 38-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman drowned in the village of Rio Abajo, 180 miles north of Tegucigalpa, the capital. Three fishermen who set out from a nearby port Friday have been reported missing.

Civil defense workers, police and firefighters have evacuated 10,000 people from their homes in the affected region, with most taking shelter at local schools.

Civil defense chief Juan Bendeck said yesterday that two rivers running through the northern provinces - the Ulua and Chamelecon - were still rising. He said many poorer communities in the region have been flooded.


Bin Laden Halloween masks popping up

Associated Press

While the United States hunts for the real Osama bin Laden, rubber-masked copies of the Western world's most-hated terrorist are popping up at Halloween celebrations from Northern Ireland to Mexico.

While most Americans would shudder at such disguises, they're perceived abroad as part of the tradition associated with this American import: shock, surprise, grim jokes.

In Mexico, the Caretas Rev costume-making company is offering a full-length costume of bin Laden for just $33, including a hand-painted rubber mask of the bearded Saudi exile.

"For us, the masks are not offensive," said Elizabeth Mendoza, a saleswoman for the costume company. "It's all done with Mexican humor, as a joke."

The company is not exporting the masks to its neighbor to the north, however.

In Northern Ireland, a land where dark humor is often used to leaven tragedy, costume shops reported a brisk business in Arab-style costumes. Some shops said bin Laden masks were their most requested item, with George Bush masks trailing well behind.

Only one of 20 bin Laden masks - selling for $40 each - was left at a shop in downtown Belfast.

Most costume shops in Northern Ireland were peddling generic Middle Eastern garb, such as turbans, robes and beards.

"It's hard to have a drink in a bin Laden mask," said James Elliott, owner of a costume shop in Belfast. "But we've had lots of requests for the Arab outfit."

In Brazil, bin Laden masks were being marketed for the increasingly popular Halloween holiday and are likely to re-emerge during Carnival celebrations in February.

Gilvan Jose dos Santos, a salesman at the Casa Turana costume store in downtown Rio de Janeiro, said that Bin Laden masks were by far the season's most popular costume - outselling Yasser Arafat and George Bush masks by about 20 to 1.

But Salim Khan, owner of the No. 1 Costume Hire shop in Singapore, said bin Laden costumes were not a big draw.

"It's not a hot item," Khan said. "The witch costume is still the most popular."


Activists clash with police

Associated Press

Police fired pepper spray at nearly a dozen animal rights activists yesterday as they tried to breach a barricade outside a firm with ties to a controversial British research company.

Nine people were arrested as they tried to scale the 3-foot barricade at the downtown headquarters of Stephens Inc., chanting "stop the torture, stop the pain." Many wore gas masks, bandanas and animal masks, and some had painted animal features on their faces.

"The Battle of Little Rock has begun," Mark, a group leader who refused to give his last name, said over a bullhorn.

No injuries were immediately reported.

About 150 people arrived in Little Rock over the weekend for protests against the company and its investment in Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The demonstration was organized by Philadelphia-based Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, which claims the company's laboratories in Great Britain and New Jersey mistreat animals.

Stephens says Huntingdon complies with government regulations in its treatment of animals and does not abuse animals.



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