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News Briefs

WHO Makes SARS Advisory Against Travel to Toronto


In a warning that could have devastating economic consequences for Canada’s largest city, the World Health Organization advised Wednesday against all nonessential travel to Toronto. It was the latest effort to curb the global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the killer virus better known as SARS.

The advisory was especially stunning because it indicated that authorities regard the outbreak in Canada as posing as much of a danger to world health as the disease’s march through southeast China and other parts of Asia.

China’s capital city, Beijing, and Shanxi province were also added to the health organization’s list of regions with levels of infection high enough to warrant the unusual advisories. Earlier this month, the Geneva-based WHO warned against travel to Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where SARS is believed to have originated in November.

Muslim Immigrants Fear Deadline To Register With U.S.


Over the last five months, nearly 130,000 predominantly Muslim male immigrants and visitors have been questioned in immigration offices, airports and border crossings in the largest effort to register immigrants in decades. Officials say they have caught and detained 11 suspected terrorists; they also say they have arrested more than 200 criminal suspects, caught more than 9,000 illegal aliens and gathered a wealth of detailed information about immigrants here lawfully.

“I regard this as a great success,” said Kris Kobach, general counsel for the Justice Department. “Sept. 11th awakened the country to the fact that weak immigration enforcement presents a huge vulnerability that terrorists can exploit.”

But in the glass and steel government building here, where immigrants with pounding hearts answer questions about their bank accounts and previous addresses, many people say the registrations have also deepened the fear and disillusionment among law-abiding Muslims still reeling from the arrests, detentions and deportations after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

“I love America so I have to respect the law. But we are not terrorists. We are coming here as law-abiding people to work,” said Sameh, who parks cars near a shopping mall in suburban Maryland and was No. 50 in line at the crowded immigration office this week.

Amazon Books Big Sales but Returns to Red Ink in 1st Quarter


After its second profitable holiday season, online retailer Inc. returned to red ink in the first quarter, despite a 28 percent jump in sales driven by a free-shipping promotion.

The Seattle-based company on Thursday posted a $10 million loss, or 3 cents a share, on sales of $1.08 billion. The results, which surpassed Wall Street projections, were better than those in the same period last year, when the company lost $23.2 million on $847.4 million in sales.

Amazon’s shares lost 31 cents to $25.12 in regular Nasdaq trading before the earnings were released, but climbed as high as $28.73 on the news in after-hours trading.

“They just keep putting together solid quarters where they beat expectations,” said Dan Geiman, equity analyst with Seattle-based broker McAdams Wright Ragen, which does not conduct business with Amazon or own the company’s shares.

Of the 28 percent increase in sales, about 6 percentage points resulted from favorable foreign exchange rates on overseas sales.