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400,000 cattle in Germany to be killed in mad cow scare

BERLIN (AP) -- As the European Union criticized governments for taking too long to react to mad cow disease, Germany said Thursday it would begin slaughtering 400,000 older cattle in a week at the earliest.

Germany's slaughter -- designed to rid farmers of unwanted animals in Europe's mad cow scare -- can begin after slaughterhouses bid to be a part of the program, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Part of a Europe-wide cull, the slaughter will cost $311 million, the ministry said, with the European Union pitching in just under half the cost.

Germany would usually kill about 4 million cattle a year, but consumers' fear of infected beef has cut demand by half, leaving many farms saddled with unwanted cows more than 30 months old -- the age group suspected of carrying the disease and targeted for death.

Other big European beef producers Ireland and France are also killing thousands of animals.

Scientists link the cattle disease with the human version that has killed more than 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s.

Leaders of India, Pakistan break the ice after quake

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Disaster brought two rivals together today as India's leader and Pakistan's military ruler spoke by telephone about the earthquake that devastated India's Gujarat state.

It was the first reported conversation between Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, an Indian government spokesman said.

Vajpayee has avoided speaking to Musharraf since the Pakistani leader came to power in an October 1999 coup, blaming him for clashes between the two countries in May-July 1999.

Musharraf called Vajpayee "to convey his sympathy at the great loss of life caused by the earthquake in Gujarat," said Moha Bashir, an official in Vajpayee's office. "The prime minister thanked the chief executive for Pakistan's assistance." Pakistan sent two military planes full of aid after the 7.7-magnitude quake struck Gujarat state last Friday, killing at least 15,088 people, according to the latest estimate. Officials say the final toll could reach 35,000. The number of injured was 61,705.

Bogota workers break out skates, cycles for commute

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Residents of Bogota commuted to work Thursday on foot, bicycles, roller skates and even on a train pulled by an antique diesel locomotive, when a ban on private cars transformed the usually traffic-clogged capital.

Many found the one-day respite from the blaring horns, edgy drivers and added smog all too brief.

"I love it," said Juan Carlos Aristizabal, who left his car in the garage and biked 40 blocks to his telecommunications company. "It shows people there are other ways to get to work."

Car-Free Day was instituted a year ago in Bogota by former Mayor Enrique Penalosa, a bicycle enthusiast who delivered speeches about the evils of the automobile. Voters later approved a referendum for an annual Car-Free Day, held the first Thursday of February.

Most people in Bogota played by the rules, but police said by midday about 250 scofflaw motorists had been pulled over and fined about $12 each.

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