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France braces for more protests


Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy attacked France’s social model and offered veiled criticism for the government’s handling of a growing crisis over a jobs law for youths – expected to culminate today in nationwide strikes and protests.

Police promised increased surveillance on the country’s regional and commuter rail network ahead of the protests over the new youth employment law, which is expected to cause widespread disruption of train, plane and subway traffic.

The labor law would let companies dismiss workers under 26 without cause during their first two years on the job – a provision the government hopes will make employers more willing to hire younger workers.

MANILA, Philippines

Store explosion kills nine

A powerful explosion in a grocery store on a volatile island in the southern Philippines killed nine people on Monday, and police said an extortion attempt by suspected militants was likely behind the bombing.

The provincial police chief in Jolo, Senior Superintendent Ahirun Ajirim, said an extortion letter was found at a nearby drugstore shortly before a bomb ripped through the two-story cooperative building in downtown Jolo, killing nine and wounding 20.

Ajirim said he suspected al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels were involved in the bombing.

The island is a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked militants, notorious for kidnappings and terror attacks. It was also the venue of last month’s counterterrorism exercise between Filipino and U.S. troops.


Da Silva urges rich nations to change

Brazil announced plans to expand protection of the Amazon rain forest, and its president on Monday called on wealthy nations to do more to protect the environment.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed industrialized nations for the “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.”

“It is unacceptable that poorer nations continue to suffer the main burden of environmental degradation,” the Brazilian leader told cabinet ministers from more than 90 countries. His remarks came at the opening of three days of high-level talks at the eighth biannual Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, sponsored by the United Nations.

The talks are a major test to the cabinet ministers’ commitment to the 1992 treaty; and a U.N. report released at the conference said species were being lost at the fastest rate since the disappearance of dinosaurs – or as much as 1,000 times faster than the natural rate of extinction.


27 skulls found; Voodoo feared

Scavengers found 10 human skulls Monday in a trash heap – the second such grisly find in as many days in Haiti’s capital, where authorities speculated that the bones may have come from a Voodoo ritual.

The skulls were inside plastic buckets along a busy road in an eastern district of Port-au-Prince, bystanders said. Two U.N. civilian police could be seen trying to match the skulls with several sets of jaw bones also found in the dump.

Authorities may have to call in experts from outside the country to determine the age of the skulls, which were to be turned over to Haiti’s national police, U.N. civilian police spokesman Marc Jacquet said.

On Saturday, police found 17 skulls in a nearby wooded area in the Petionville suburb of the capital. Witnesses said those skulls were inside plastic buckets that were tossed from a passing car.

Compiled from wire reports


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