Euro cash officiallybecomes legal tender
FRANKFURT, Germany -- Greece and Finland led the way as 12 European nations adopted the euro at midnight Monday in the most ambitious currency swap in history, one which the euro's architects hope will bolster dreams of a united Europe.
The euro takes physical form as notes and coins a decade after it was conceived with the Maastricht Treaty and three years after it began its life as a theoretical unit underpinning the exchange rates of the mark, peseta, drachma, lire, franc and other national currencies that it now replaces.
Until now, the euro has remained an abstraction for ordinary people.
In Helsinki, Finnish Finance Minister Sauli Niinisto made the first official purchase, buying a cup of coffee with a euro coin at the Casino Ray.
The Bank of Finland opened its five branches nationwide for one hour at midnight to give euro enthusiasts a piece of the action. The first of Finland's 2,200 cash dispensers won't be converted to euros until this morning.
In Athens, Greek Premier Costas Simitis withdrew euro bank notes from an automatic teller machine, which he deposited in a charity box for UNICEF. Minutes later, hundreds of people flocked to ATMs.
"This is a milestone in Greek history. Now we are part of united Europe," Simitis said.
Peru police confiscatetons of fireworks
LIMA, Peru -- Police combed through downtown Lima for fireworks Monday, lugging away crate after crate of Roman candles, bottle rockets and firecrackers in hopes of averting a disaster like the inferno that killed nearly 300 people over the weekend.
About 40 tons of fireworks exploded Saturday night, fueling the deadliest fire in Peru's history in an area of historic downtown Lima filled with holiday shoppers, said Gabriela Adrianzen of the mayor's office.
Lima Fire Chief Tulio Nicolini said the blaze began after sparks from one firecracker, lit apparently as a demonstration, ignited others on some of the dozens of fireworks stands nearby.
The ensuing blaze devoured four blocks of decrepit apartment buildings and shopping galleries in a matter of minutes, leaving dozens of people, including small children, charred beyond recognition.
Jackson intervenesin Harvard dispute
BOSTON -- Jesse Jackson said Monday that he will meet with Harvard University's president to discuss the school's diversity policy after reports that high-profile black professors may leave because of a dispute with the administration.
"The clarification will be good for Harvard, its faculty and the nation," Jackson said. "Harvard is our flagship university and there is concern expressed by the professors about the need for an unequivocal commitment to affirmative action, or inclusion."
The school's president, Lawrence Summers, is looking forward to a meeting "to talk about a range of issues," Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said.
The Boston Globe reported Dec. 22 that the rift began when Summers would not make a strong statement in support of affirmative action at a meeting with members of the Afro-American studies department.
According to the Globe and a report over the weekend in The New York Times, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and two other prominent members of the department -- Cornel West and Anthony Appiah -- are considering leaving for Princeton University because of problems with Summers.
Judge blocks deer huntin New Jersey
TRENTON, N.J. -- A judge temporarily blocked a deer hunt Monday after animal rights groups complained the plan was dangerous to residents and cruel to the animals.
White Buffalo Inc. of Hamden, Conn., was hired to kill deer in densely populated Princeton Township by shooting the animals at night with high-powered rifles fitted with silencers.
The company can also trap deer in nets and then, while holding the animals down, kill them with a device that fires a retractable, 4-inch steel bolt into their skulls -- a technique known as "net and bolt."
Under the plan, 400 to 500 deer would be killed in the township, one of many New Jersey communities where an overabundance of deer has caused traffic accidents, damage to crops and other problems. The program, now in its second year, aims to reduce the herd from 1,600 to 400 over five years. In 2001, 324 deer were killed.
Bruce Afran, a lawyer representing animal rights groups and about 35 residents, said the restraining order remains in effect until a hearing early in 2002. Afran said the groups want to ban the "net and bolt" technique for deer in New Jersey.