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[BBC] 【整理】 BBC 2008-02-17

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BBC 2008-02-17


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BBC Correspondents
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【整理】 by Julie

BBC news with Fiona McDonald.

The leader of the main opposition party in Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has appealed for calm after a suicide car bombing at a supporters’ rally killed 37 people. The blast happened on the last day of campaigning before Monday's general election. Chris Morris reports from Islamabad.

This election campaign is ended as it began with acts of violence casting a long shadow. A car was driven into a crowd waiting for food after an election meeting in the town of Parachinar, in a region where Islamist militancy has been on the rise. Eyewitnesses say the car blew up, scattering body parts across the street. Many of the dead and wounded were supporters of the Pakistan People's Party. The election is supposed to be an important landmark in the transition to civilian democracy, but security concerns remain high.

Thousands of ethnic Albanians have poured onto the streets of Prishtina, the capital of the Serbian province of Kosovo, to celebrate its imminent unilateral declaration of independence. In the Serbian capital Belgrade, about 1000 demonstrators protested at the loss of territory they considered their heartland. Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said the influence of Belgrade had ended. Independence was a done deal and Kosovo must look to the future. From Prishtina, Helen Fawkes reports.

The countdown to Kosovo's independence is on. Final preparations are being made for the celebrations. For some, the party has already started. On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians are expected on the streets of the capital. Many people here are flying the Albanian flag. Kosovo's new flag is yet to be unveiled. There is concern this may spark sporadic violence. 16000 NATO troops are based in Kosovo and security is tight.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has said it's time to start considering the possibility of organizing the voluntary return of some of the millions of Iraqis who have fled their homes because of the violence. Mr. Guterres has agreed with the Iraqi government for an assessment of conditions on the ground to take place to see if it is safe for refugees to return.

Returns can only take place voluntarily in safety and dignity and people must see their basic problems solved. There is a lot of work to be done. And we will be working there together with the Iraqi government in an assessment in order to look at the future opportunities of return that we hope will be able to take place in a way that will contribute to national reconciliation and to the reconstruction of the country.

A former Nazi SS member who was convicted in his absence of war crimes in Italy has started a prison sentence in southern Italy following his extradition from Canada. The man, Michael Seifert, was found guilty in 2000 of killings committed while he was a camp guard in northern Italy in the last year of the Second World War

World news from the BBC.

At the start of his tour of Africa, President Bush has urged an end to violence in Kenya. He said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would underline that message in her forthcoming visit there. But speaking in Benin, the first stop on his tour, Mr. Bush said Africa's many conflicts were not the main focus of his visit. He wanted to highlight success stories.

There's a lot more work to be done. One of the reasons I've come on this trip is to say, look at the successes we've had. We, by the way, is not American successes; these are joint successes. And look at the work that needs to be done.

Tens of thousands of Armenians have held a rally in the capital Yerevan in support of one of the main opposition candidates in Tuesday's presidential election. Levon Ter-Petrosyan has accused the authorities of preparing to rig the vote. President Robert Kocharian is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms. Observers say power is likely to transfer to his chosen successor, the Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.

A major scientific conference in the United States has heard that robots with artificial intelligence could become as clever as humans within 20 years. The inventor and author Dr. Ray Kurzweil told the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that progress in molecular computing would provide what he called the hardware for human level artificial intelligence by the 2020s. He said that already more than 20 regions of the human brain had been modeled and stimulated.

A Brazilian film about police violence has won the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival. The film, The Elite Squad directed by Jose Padilha portrays the operations of a paramilitary police unit in Rio de Janeiro. The American film maker Paul Thomas Anderson won best director for There Will Be Blood. The best actor award went to the Iranian Reza Naji for his performance in The Song of Sparrows as an ostrich farmer who moves to Tehran when he loses his job.
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