The European Union has long talked about creating its own rapid reaction force that could be quickly dispatched to the world's hot spots. That still doesn't exist, but last week Eurocorps a defense force created in 1992 and made up of soldiers from Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg assumed command of the 6,500 NATO troops in Afghanistan, the organization's first such deployment outside Europe. "I think there's a great deal of expectation for the E.U. to be here within a NATO operation," says French Lieutenant General Jean-Louis Py, Eurocorps' commander in Kabul.
Py said the main task is to maintain peace as Afghanistan tries to hold its first presidential election on Oct. 9. Taliban rebels, bent on disrupting the process, have been attacking election workers for the past several months, and last week clashed with U.S. soldiers in the southern mountains. Security officials also warn of possible bombings in the capital, Kabul. "Without the peacekeepers, Afghanistan
Typhoon Ranamin killed at least 115 people as it hit eastern China, destroying 42,000 homes and causing an estimated $1.85 billion in damage. In the U.S., Florida reeled from the impact of Hurricane Charley (below). Despite the evacuation of 1.4 million people, officials expected the death toll of 15 to rise. Initial estimates put the cost of repairs at $5 billion.
A New Frontier
BRITAIN The government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority granted experts at Newcastle's Centre for Life a license the first of its kind to carry out therapeutic cloning using human embryos. The scientists hope to use stem cells from the embryos to develop treatments for diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer's.
AUSTRIA A court in St. Poelten, near Vienna, gave a former student at a Catholic seminary in the city a six-month suspended jail sentence for possessing child pornography. A day earlier, a papal envoy investigating wider allegations of sexual impropriety shut down the college.
In the Frame
ROMANIA Prosecutors indicted Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu and 79 other officials on charges of fraud in relation to the sale of state-owned ships in the early 1990s, at an alleged loss of €275 million. Basescu, Transport Minister at the time of the sale, said the charges were politically motivated. He is co-leader of the opposition Truth and Justice Alliance, which is nudging ahead of the government in opinion polls in the run-up to November's legislative and presidential elections.
GEORGIA Firefights between government forces and separatists in the breakaway province of South Ossetia claimed at least three lives and wounded more than 60 before representatives from Russia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Russian region of North Ossetia brokered a cease-fire. The Georgian parliament passed a resolution demanding that Russian peacekeepers deployed in South Ossetia be replaced by international troops.