Chinese authorities refining attempts to block Web access

SHANGHAI, China - The Chinese authorities appear to have refined their attempts to block access to popular U.S.-based Internet search engines, people who use the Web in different parts of the country said yesterday.

Users said they could once again access Google, which had been barred for almost two weeks, though Altavista, another popular search site, remained inaccessible. But shifting strategies, the authorities now appear to be selectively blocking access to content available through Google.

Web users, no longer automatically diverted to rival search sites that adhere to the government's strict censorship rules, may search freely on Google, but they cannot retrieve all search results.

@SUBHEDFarmers' group disputes Mugabe's land-grab claims

UNITED NATIONS - President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe told the United Nations General Assembly that his government had ended its "fast track" land-distribution program to seize white-owned farms and redistribute them to thousands of poor and landless blacks.

In Zimbabwe, however, a farmers support group, Justice for Agriculture, reported yesterday that 12 more farmers were arrested for defying government eviction orders. More than 300 other farmers had been charged with defying the order to leave their land by Aug. 8.

Shortly before Mugabe's speech Thursday, his government announced that it would tighten its land-seizure laws, effectively canceling reprieves on eviction that courts have given to scores of white farmers. Mugabe did not mention the new regulations in his speech.

@SUBHEDFormer German chancellor retires from politics

BERLIN - The political career of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, 72, ended as he retired as a member of parliament, but he skipped the final session before the national election set for Sept. 22.

Kohl joined parliament in 1976 and was Germany's leader from 1982 to 1998. He was tarnished by a campaign-financing scandal in 1999 and addressed parliament only twice during the past four years.

His final days in parliament were overshadowed by remarks he reportedly made that the current president of parliament, Wolfgang Thierse, was the worst since Hermann Goering, the Nazi war criminal.

@SUBHEDTribunal upholds ruling barring Bhutto from vote

KARACHI, Pakistan - Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's bid to stage a political comeback ended yesterday when an election tribunal upheld a ruling disqualifying her from running in next month's elections.

The ruling set off an unruly protest by hundreds of Bhutto's followers in the courthouse grounds. Police arrested more than two dozen people. Inside the courtroom, a candidate from Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples' Party shouted "Shame, shame" at the presiding judge.

The justices rejected an appeal of a ruling by election officials that disallowed Bhutto's registration as a candidate in two districts and for a third seat reserved for women.

@SUBHEDFuneral turns to protest as Kashmir elections near

SRINAGAR, India - Protesters ripped down election signs and police responded with tear gas in Indian-controlled Kashmir yesterday as the troubled state lurched toward elections next week.

The clash broke out as about 1,000 mourners marched through Srinagar, the state's summer capital, in a funeral procession for two men killed overnight. The crowd chanted anti-election slogans, ripped down banners and burned copies of newspapers they accused of misrepresenting the facts.

Police fired tear gas and chased away the mourners with nightsticks.

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