Children's Group Urges Toy Maker to Withdraw Beat-up' Doll
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A line of dolls whose faces are bruised and battered should be pulled off the shelves in Spain, a children's rights group says.
The new dolls have black eyes, head bruises and bandaged cuts.
The Prodeni children's rights group accused the manufacturer of being insensitive to battered children, the leading daily El Pais reported Thursday.
Prodeni said the dolls' design could have "the dangerous effect of making children insensitive to real-life situations" of abuse and wants them off the market.
But Miguel Rodriguez, manager of the Ferre Fuster factory in Alicante in southeastern Spain, which makes the dolls, said he would not withdraw them.
"Who says it's a mistreated child and not one that has fallen down some stairs?" Rodriguez told the newspaper.
The dolls are sold under the trademark name "Joimi" and are part of a line that features kids laughing, crying and screaming.
Despite U.S. Pressure on Milosevic, Demonstrators Unhappy
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- The United States is pushing harder for President Slobodan Milosevic to give his people more freedom. It even intervened to keep a crucial radio station on the air after Milosevic's government shut it down.
That still isn't enough, say demonstrators, some of whom only this week burned an American flag.
"If America is so mighty, how come it cannot get rid of, or at least scare, a little Balkan dictator?" wondered 22-year-old student Dragan Petric. He was one of more than 100,000 protesters on Thursday, the 17th day of anti-government protests.
The protests -- the biggest ever against the authoritarian president -- are fueled by popular anger over poverty, the absence of economic reforms and limits on freedom of speech and media. They started after Milosevic annulled local elections the opposition had won.
The United States has been careful with Milosevic. It depends on him to implement the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia, where U.S. prestige and the safety of American troops are at stake. On the other hand, it has regularly reminded Milosevic that his regime falls far short of acceptable standards of democracy.
At first, U.S. officials responded to the protests with guarded criticism, but condemnation intensified as unrest spread.
At a conference in London on Bosnia, U.S. officials have tried to get other participants to adopt a statement condemning Belgrade's crackdown on independent media and challenges to the election results. Not all countries are going along, though, particularly Serbia's traditional backer, Russia.
Also this week, the State Department threatened to reimpose economic sanctions if Milosevic used violence against the demonstrators.
The opposition says the United States couldn't choose a worse tactic.
Sanctions, they say, would give Milosevic an excuse for Serbia's poor economy, provide a diversion from government corruption, and therefore shore up his regime.
Portugal Atones 500 Years after Royal Edict Expelled Jews
LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Five hundred years to the day after King Manuel I expelled thousands of Jews or forced them to embrace Roman Catholicism as "New Christians," Portugal atoned Thursday for the royal edict.
The solemn commemorations were the culmination of a process begun by former President Mario Soares in 1988 when he first apologized to Jews for centuries of persecution by the Grand Inquisition.
Events included the inauguration of a synagogue in the small eastern town of Belmonte where Jews secretly preserved their religion and traditions for centuries, and the re-enactment of Manuel's edict at Lisbon's Maria II National Theater, built on the site of an old Inquisition court.
Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio, Israel's Parliament Speaker Dan Tichon and Portuguese government and Roman Catholic church officials attended prayers Thursday at Lisbon's synagogue.
Then, speaking to a packed parliament, Sampaio said the expulsion of Portugal's Jews was an "iniquitous act with deep and disastrous consequences" for Portugal, at the time one of Europe's richest and most powerful nations.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Vera Jardim called the expulsion of Portugal's Jews "a black piece of our history." The state, he said, owed Jews "moral reparation" for centuries of "brutal persecution, deaths at the stake ... and confessions and abjurations obtained by torture."
The 1496 expulsion was politically motivated. Manuel saw a chance of ruling the whole Iberian peninsula by marrying Spain's princess Isabella.
Her parents, the fervent "Catholic kings" Ferdinand and Isabella, had already deported Spain's Jews four years earlier and would only bless the marriage if Manuel followed suit.
About 60,000 Spanish Jews who had taken refuge in Portugal under Manuel's pragmatic cousin Joao II, prepared to flee.
But Manuel, anxious not to lose a pool of talent that had helped improve the technology and cartography used by Vasco de Gama and other Portuguese discoverers, cut a last-minute deal.
Jews would be allowed to stay another 20 years if they converted to Christianity. But that did not always help. The Portuguese Inquisition, at times crueler than its Spanish counterpart, persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake tens of thousands of Jews.
Campus Drug Sting Tainted by Alleged Officer Misconduct
CHICO, Calif. (AP) -- Prosecutors dropped drug charges today against 10 California State University students, saying an undercover officer who lived among them tainted his investigation by providing alcohol to minors and having a romance with a woman student.
"You cannot enforce the law by breaking the law," Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey Ramsey said during a news conference.
The 23-year-old officer was not identified.
The officer lived in a campus dorm in a "sting" investigation that led to the students' arrests on marijuana charges last month. The drug sweep prompted angry protests from dorm residents.
Although charges have been dropped, the students still face administrative disciplinary hearings at the university, California State's Chico campus.
Campus Police Chief Mike Minard said he was disappointed in the outcome of the case.
Minard said the officer, a recent police academy graduate hired only for the sting, had passed background checks and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing to his supervisor.
However, during questioning by the district attorney's office, he admitted the misconduct, Ramsey said.
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Children's Group Urges Toy Maker to Withdraw Beat-up' Doll