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Pope's health might keep people away in Canada

The cross has arrived for World Youth Day, and so have thousands of young Roman Catholic pilgrims, waiting for miracles and Pope John Paul II.

"So many people were saying the pope might not come," said Christina Stachulak, 24. "But all the young people were saying, "Of course he would come. He would do anything for us. We know because he tells us he loves us.' "

Organizers are expecting more than 350,000 people from 170 countries to converge on Toronto for World Youth Day, a gathering of young people on a pilgrimage to profess their faith. The first World Youth Day was in 1986, after the pope called on youth to join him in celebrating the church. It has since been organized in different cities about every two years.

The pope, 82, who shows signs of Parkinson's disease, is to arrive today. As of Friday, 200,000 people had registered for the event, leading some people to speculate that the turnout might be lower than expected because of uncertainty about the pope's health.

Vatican officials, however, have said he will not curtail his summer travel. After Canada he will visit Guatemala and Mexico, and then journey to Poland, the country of his birth, in August.

The pope is to spend two days resting at Strawberry Island, a retreat about one hour north of Toronto operated by the Basilian Fathers. On Thursday, he is expected to speak at a welcoming ceremony, and Saturday he is scheduled to deliver a message at a vigil. He will celebrate Mass with about 1-million people on Sunday.

The week is filled with activities, including teachings, confessions and social service work. The pope is scheduled to meet with Canada's governor general, Adrienne Clarkson, and Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

The World Youth Day Pilgrim Cross, a simple wooden cross, was turned over by the Vatican to dioceses across Canada. As it made its way down lonely roads, through shopping centers and icy deserts en route to Toronto, some people waited all night to see it and cried when they touched it. Others vowed to go back to church.

"As the cross made its pilgrimage, it has touched people," said John Boissonneau, auxiliary bishop of Toronto. "The cross, like World Youth Day, draws us out. The pope draws us beyond ourselves, especially in his weakened state."

Domenico Arcoraci, 26, an accountant from Sicily, said he felt an urgent need to come for World Youth Day because of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

"It's important for me to experience this because this moment in the world is very problematic," Arcoraci said. "I'm here as a testimonial of Christ and hope. If the young people have fear of this moment of the terrorism, what kind of future can we have?"

Report faults Britain in

foot-and-mouth epidemic

LONDON _ Britain's government failed to understand the seriousness of last year's foot-and-mouth epidemic in its early days and moved too slowly and with too little coordination to bring it under control, an investigation of the outbreak concluded Monday.

Speedier and more decisive action might have spared Britons from some of the worst effects of the epidemic, which ravaged agriculture and rural tourism, costing more than $12-billion, said the report by Iain Anderson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"We seem destined to repeat the mistakes of history," Anderson wrote, saying that a report on Britain's last foot-and-mouth outbreak, in 1967-68, warned against many of the errors officials made last year.

Slaying of teenager renews

violence in Northern Ireland

BELFAST, Northern Ireland _ A Protestant extremist shot to death a Catholic teenager as he walked home from a Belfast pub Monday, deepening a cycle of sectarian violence in a week when Northern Ireland's cross-community government already faces a stern test.

The Ulster Defense Association, Northern Ireland's biggest outlawed anti-Catholic group, claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks on Catholics, including 19-year-old Gerald Lawlor's killing, in a message that threatened further violence.

Despite a summer of street turmoil, Lawlor's was the first fatal shooting in Belfast since January, when Protestant extremists killed a Catholic postman. That slaying inspired large-scale demonstrations supporting the province's 1998 peace accord.

Former president wants deal or

won't testify against Milosevic

THE HAGUE, Netherlands _ A former president of Yugoslavia who was forcibly brought to the U.N. war crimes tribunal as a witness refused to testify Monday against Slobodan Milosevic without guarantees he cannot be prosecuted for revealing state secrets.

Zoran Lilic, who served as the figurehead president of the collapsing Yugoslav federation from 1993 until Milosevic took over as president in 1997, was detained last week in Belgrade and flown to the Netherlands to appear before the court as a prosecution witness.

"I am ready to testify before this tribunal should a relevant authority, which means the president, lift the ban on keeping military secrets," he said.

The court postponed Lilic's testimony until Friday.

ChevronTexaco: Production will

fall short because of protests

LAGOS, Nigeria _ ChevronTexaco said Monday it cannot meet its Nigeria production obligations after a series of peaceful all-women protests and an unrelated fire paralyzed company operations in the West African nation.

The company's Nigerian subsidiary said it needed to review safety and other concerns at the Escravos facility in southeastern Nigeria before knowing when it could begin to meet its monthly export and production quotas.

The Escravos facility exports nearly half a million barrels of crude oil a day.

Elsewhere . . .

NOVEMBER 17 SUSPECT ADMITS ROLE: Thomas Serifis, the latest suspect arrested in a crackdown against the elusive November 17 terror group, has confessed to stealing rockets and bazookas for the organization and participating in a bombing, police said Monday.

Serifis, 36, was arraigned a day after he was captured Sunday in northern Greece. He admitted to helping steal dozens of antitank rockets from a Greek army base in 1989 and bazookas from Athens' War Museum the next year. He also confessed to participating in the 1989 bombing of a house and a 1990 bank robbery.

NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR VISITS CUBA: Hoping to whet Cuba's appetite for wheat, peas and other food from his state, Republican Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota traveled to the communist nation on a trade mission Monday, making him only the second U.S. governor to visit in more than 40 years.

"The White House is very concerned that this is strictly a trade mission, and, of course, that's what it is," Hoeven said. "We're going over there to get contracts for our farmers, to sell food products."