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News Briefs

Five Charged In Bomb Plot


British anti-terrorism authorities charged five men on Thursday with conspiring to build a bomb from 1,000 pounds of explosive material to be used against unspecified targets.

The charges, along with those leveled in a Canadian court on Wednesday, connect seven young Pakistani immigrants -- six of them living on the outskirts of London and one living in Ottawa -- with hatching a terrorist plot that, given the amount of explosive material, could have had devastating consequences.

The case became public on March 30, when 700 British police officers and intelligence officers raided homes and other properties, arresting eight men and seizing a half ton of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound that can be used in explosives.

Charged on Thursday were Anthony Garcia, 21; Jawad Akbar, 20; Omar Khyam, 22; Waheed Mahmoud, 32; and Nabeel Hussein, 19.

Bush Names Businessman To Halt Manufacturing Job Losses


President Bush on Thursday nominated a California businessman to a senior position in the Commerce Department charged with reversing the precipitous drop in manufacturing jobs over the last three years. That decline continues to be a serious liability for Bush’s re-election campaign.

The businessman, Albert A. Frink Jr., is the executive vice president and a founder of Fabrica International, a relatively small company, based in Santa Ana, Calif., that makes high-end carpeting. He has not served in government before, although he has been on a federal advisory panel on textiles.

Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans introduced Frink on Thursday during a visit to a company in Mount Vernon, Ohio, that makes natural-gas compressors. Evans said Frink’s “extensive background as a manufacturer makes him a great candidate to serve because he has walked in their shoes and knows firsthand the barriers that are challenging American manufacturers.”

China Backs Away From Contested Dam Project


Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has unexpectedly suspended plans for a massive dam system on the Nu River in western China that scientists have warned could ruin one of the country’s last unspoiled places, according to news reports in China and Hong Kong.

Wen’s intervention signals that China’s top leaders have not approved a plan that most dam opponents had considered a fait accompli. His personal involvement is a rare and surprising response in a nondemocratic government that in the past has shown little concern about the environmental effects of major public works projects.

In written instructions, the news reports said, Wen ordered officials to conduct a major review of the hydropower project, which calls for a 13-stage dam. Environmentalists consider the Nu, which rises in Tibet and flows 1,750 miles through Yunnan Province between the Mekong and Yangtze rivers, one of the last pristine rivers in Asia. Its upper reaches flow through a canyon region so rich in biodiversity that last year a United Nations agency declared it a World Heritage Site.

“We should carefully consider and make a scientific decision about major hydroelectric projects like this that have aroused a high level of concern in society, and with which the environmental protection side disagrees,” Wen wrote, according to Meng Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper.

The announcement appeared in a variety of Chinese news outlets.