ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
After 3.2-million years in East Africa, one of the world's most famous set of fossils was quietly flown out of Ethiopia overnight for a U.S. tour that some experts say is a dangerous gamble with an irreplaceable relic. Although the fossil known as Lucy had been expected to leave the Ethiopian Natural History Museum this month, some in the nation's capital were surprised the departure took place under cover of darkness with no fanfare Sunday.
Paleontologist Berhane Assaw said he arrived at the museum Monday morning after working late Sunday night to find that the fossil and key staff members had left for Texas, where Lucy will go on display this month. The departure "should have been made public," he said.
The Smithsonian Institution has objected to the six-year tour because museum experts do not believe the fragile remains should travel. Even in Ethiopia, the public has seen the real Lucy fossil only twice. The Lucy exhibition at the Ethiopian Natural History Museum is a replica, and the real remains are usually locked in a vault to protect them.
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
U.S. warns of violence at parade
The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia on Monday warned Americans not to attend a military parade to be hosted by President Evo Morales in the eastern city of Santa Cruz for fear of violence. Thousands of Bolivian soldiers will march with indigenous groups in today's Armed Forces Day celebration in Santa Cruz, a hotbed of anti-government sentiment. The U.S. Embassy cited "the possibility of increased political and social tensions and potential violence," noting that counter-demonstrations by Santa Cruz organizations could clash with the marchers.
3 to be extradited in alleged JFK plot
A judge Monday ordered three men extradited to the United States to face charges in an alleged plot to attack New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and a confidential U.S. document said they planned to seek help from Iran. Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls rejected a defense argument that the men could not be extradited on conspiracy charges under Trinidadian law. Lawyers for the three men, Abdul Kadir, an opposition legislator in Parliament in Guyana; Trinidadian Islamic cleric Kareem Ibrahim; and Abdel Nur, also of Guyana, say their clients were entrapped by a convicted drug dealer who acted as an informant.
Masterpieces stolen from French museum
Five armed, masked thieves sprinted into an art museum on the French Riviera during opening hours Sunday afternoon and escaped with a Monet and three other masterpieces. The robbers ordered guards to lie on the floor at gunpoint as accomplices fanned through the galleries of Nice's Museum of Fine Arts. Stolen were French impressionist Claude Monet's Cliffs Near Dieppe, the bucolic Lane of Poplars at Moret by another impressionist, Alfred Sisley, and two evocative oil paintings by Flemish Baroque-era artist Jan Bruegel the Elder, according to Interpol, the international police agency.
KOSOVO AUTONOMY: Serbia is ready to grant autonomy to Kosovo if the province remains under Serbian sovereignty, Dusan Prorokovic, president of the parliamentary commission for Kosovo and Metohija, said Monday.
ABUSES ALLEGED: The Sri Lankan government has committed many human rights abuses in its fight against Tamil rebels, illegally detaining some opponents, secretly abducting others and waging battles with little regard for the safety of civilians, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Monday. The Sri Lankan government denies any abuse.