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News Briefs

Pakistan’s Military May Have Aided In Smuggling Operations

By David Rohde And Eric Lichtblau

The New York Times -- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Interviews with Pakistani businessmen and new court documents filed in the United States suggest that Pakistan’s powerful military may have played a role in the smuggling of 66 high-speed electrical switches from the United States to Pakistan last fall. The switches can be used as triggers for nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

Humayun Khan, the Pakistani businessman whose office address was the final destination for the triggers, confirmed in a series of interviews here that he and his father have been suppliers of the Pakistani military for the past twenty years. But he denied playing any role in the smuggling of the American-made triggers to Pakistan.

“I know it’s my address and everything is pointing to me and my company,” Khan said as he sat in the offices of his firm, Pakland P.M.E., located a mile from Pakistan’s parliament building. “Frankly speaking, if I want to deal in these things I would never be so stupid as to use my own company.”

Yet documents presented by Khan in his own defense as well as court papers filed this week in Washington suggest that he is deeply involved in covert efforts to supply the Pakistani military.

Election Commission Ruling Allows Groups To Use Soft Money

By Glen Justice

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

The Federal Election Commission said on Wednesday that advocacy groups that were established to get around fund-raising restrictions in the new campaign finance law may continue spend unlimited donations for television commercials and other communications, though they must do so under far more restrictive rules.

The commission’s ruling on so-called “527 committees” could have profound effects on the 2004 election by helping Democrats, who have been much more aggressive than Republicans in creating these committees to help the party compete with the Republicans’ overall 2-1 fund-raising advantage. None of this money winds up in the candidates’ hands but can be used to raise issues and attack other candidates by name.

Perhaps the best known of these groups, America Coming Together and, gained widespread attention when George Soros, the philanthropist and international financier, pledged millions to each.

Conference Debates Ways To Confront Anti-Semitism In Europe

By Elaine Sciolino

The New York Times -- BRUSSELS, Belgium

Prominent Jewish figures and European officials agreed on Thursday that anti-Semitism is a troubling phenomenon in Europe, and called on European Union countries to forge a common strategy to combat it.

“A European disease,” Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, told a daylong conference at the headquarters of the European Union.

But the conference exposed deep fault lines that characterize perhaps the most painful and emotional debate on the Continent.

Some speakers said that anti-Semitism today was a playing-out of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the streets of Europe by immigrants from Muslim countries. Others insisted it was a mutated version of anti-Jewish hatred that has tormented Europe for centuries.