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Pope urges respect for rights

Pope John Paul II stopped on the threshold of the new century to look back on the old one, speaking on New Year's Day 1999 of the death camps and world wars of the 20th century.

Hope for the next 100 years was found in the lessons of the ones gone by, he said: the respect for fellow man enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emerged from World War II.

The pope spoke to thousands filling St. Peter's Basilica for his first Mass of the new year. Thousands more crowded the vast square outside.

"When we look at the events of this century that is coming to an end, there are before our eyes two world wars: graveyards, tombs of the fallen, families destroyed, weeping and desperation, misery and suffering. How can we forget the death camps, the children of Israel cruelly exterminated, the sacred martyrs?

"Our century, however, is also the century of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the pope said. "The secret of true peace is in respect of human rights."

French post office

issues euro stamps

PARIS _ Commemorating the start of Europe's single currency, the French post office Friday launched its first stamp in euros and francs, for use on letters destined for the euro zone.

The stamp, worth three francs or 0.46 of a euro, features a white euro symbol on a red background and will be available to the public starting Monday. The aim is to help people grasp the value of the new currency, the post office said.

From 2002, when euro notes and coins become available, all stamps will be priced in euros.

Indian police arrest

45 in attacks on churches

AHMEDABAD, India _ Indian authorities said Friday they had detained 45 Hindus in connection with attacks on Christians in the western state of Gujarat.

No fresh violence has been reported since Wednesday, but parts of the state remained tense.

"We have arrested 45 Hindus for attacking Christians. We are still looking for people involved," said Bharat Joshi, senior district official in Dang, a predominantly tribal area about 180 miles south of the state's main city, Ahmedabad.

Four nuns and two priests were injured Wednesday when mobs set a Catholic prayer hall on fire in the 10th reported attack on the Christian community since Christmas.

Hindu activists want an end to what they say are forceful religious conversions. Christian missionaries say they are only offering charity to the poor in remote areas.

Cardoso swearing-in

is a modest affair

BRASILIA _ Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso began his second term with a no-frills inauguration Friday, foregoing the traditional pomp because of tough times that have hit Latin America's biggest nation.

Cardoso arrived at Congress in a sedan to take oath as Brazil's first re-elected president, leaving an open-top Rolls-Royce normally used on state occasions in the garage. He ordered spending on the swearing-in celebrations to be kept to $50,000, a stark contrast from the lavish, $3-million ball for 5,000 guests at the start of Cardoso's first term in 1995.

Cardoso told lawmakers that only approval of an austerity plan would allow the economy to recover and give the government a chance of fighting stubbornly high poverty.

BBC listeners rank

Bard greatest Briton

LONDON _ BBC listeners have chosen playwright William Shakespeare as Britain's greatest personality of the past 1,000 years, the organization said Friday.

World War II leader Winston Churchill was second, followed by William Caxton, the publisher of the first printed book in the English language.

The rest of the list, selected by listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today news program: biologist Charles Darwin, physicist Isaac Newton, and Oliver Cromwell, leader of the victorious parliamentary forces that defeated and beheaded Charles I.

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