hRunoff set in Croatia
ZAGREB, Croatia -- Croatia's pro-Western president failed to win an outright majority for re-election Sunday, forcing him to face a runoff vote against the conservative government's candidate in two weeks. President Stipe Mesic had 49.03 percent of the votes -- just short of the majority needed to give him a second term, the state-run Electoral Commission said after more than 99 percent of the votes were counted. The 70-year-old incumbent, who was backed by most opposition parties, declared the results a "brilliant victory" and voiced confidence that he would win the runoff Jan. 16. Marija Vojkovic, 96, above, cast her ballot in the town of Split.
Calif. lawmaker dies
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Robert T. Matsui, D-Calif., a World War II internee who rose to become one of the top Asian-Americans in Congress during 26 years of service, died late Saturday, his office announced Sunday. He was 63. One of his party's leading spokesmen on tax and Social Security issues, Matsui was hospitalized at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Dec. 24, suffering from pneumonia. His office said he had been diagnosed several months ago with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare bone marrow disease that compromises the body's ability to fight infection. Matsui, a senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, was expected to be one of his party's leaders in the expected battle in Congress this year over President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.
Women feeling at homeat academy, survey says
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Women at the Naval Academy are feeling more at home at the military college, according to the latest survey of midshipmen. The anonymous survey, administered by the academy annually since 1994, shows that female midshipmen are more at ease in their relationships with male midshipmen, feel safer at their coed dorms and are less hindered by concerns of sexual harassment. About 16 percent of students at the academy are female.
Barry signs off, for now
MIAMI -- Popular humorist Dave Barry said Sunday's column for Miami Herald was his last -- maybe. Barry, who has written humor columns for three decades, including 22 years at the Herald, says he's holding out the possibility of a return. But for now, he says, "I want to stop before I join the horde of people who think I used to be funnier. And I want to work on some other stuff." Barry says he will write occasional pieces, weighing in "from time to time if something really important happens, such as a cow exploding in a boat toilet." In the column, Barry thanks his editors and readers. "You've given me the most wonderful career an English major could hope to have," he writes. "I am very grateful. And I'm not making that up."
Incineration plant fireforces evacuations
EL DORADO, Ark. -- A fire at a hazardous waste incineration plant forced hundreds of residents to evacuate Sunday, officials said. No injuries were reported and officials were monitoring air quality as thick smoke rose from the Teris plant in southern Arkansas, said Union County Sheriff Ken Jones. Police estimated about 1,500 people within a few miles of the plant were evacuated, including some in this city of about 23,000. Jones said the fire began Sunday morning at the plant east of El Dorado, apparently at a warehouse that stores hazardous waste. Residents reported hearing a series of explosions and one person said it rattled the windows of his home.
Abbas: Stop firing rockets
DEIR EL-BALAH, Gaza Strip -- Mahmoud Abbas, the leading candidate for Palestinian president, called on militants Sunday to stop firing rockets at Israel, as Israeli tanks and troops massed in northern Gaza in response to the latest barrage. A poll released Sunday showed Abbas with the backing of two-thirds of his people, three times the support of his nearest rival before a Jan. 9 election to replace Yasser Arafat. Still, the candidate with the gray, bureaucratic image spent the day courting those who have disparaged him in the past -- young militants.