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Police stage a crackdown on satellite dishes in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian police have confiscated more than 1,000 satellite dishes in two days as part of an apparent crackdown to bar access to several U.S.-based channels run by Iranian opposition groups.

An unidentified Tehran police source said the dishes had been confiscated Thursday and Friday, the state-owned daily Iran reported Saturday. About 150,000 illegal dishes were expected to be confiscated.

In 1995, the parliament banned satellite dishes in an effort to purge Iran of Western influences, but the ban wasn't strictly enforced and rooftops and balconies were soon littered with dishes.

Security officials refused to say why the latest crackdown was launched, but the Farsi-language Iran newspaper said the crackdown was directed at recent street violence in Iran, apparently inflamed by footage of soccer fans shown throwing stones at shop windows and banks after recent matches involving Iran.

Trimble bids to retake post in N. Ireland government

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- The largest Protestant party in Northern Ireland gave its backing Saturday to David Trimble in his bid to resume his position atop a shaky coalition government.

But Trimble could still face a close vote when the territory's assembly meets this week to vote for his reinstatement as First Minister as hard-line members of his Ulster Unionist party suggest they may not give him the crucial backing he needs.

Hard-liners said they were unimpressed by recent Irish Republican Army moves on disarmament that Trimble said were sufficient to bring him back into the fragile Catholic-Protestant administration.

Trimble quit his post atop the joint Protestant-Catholic government in July, fed up with the IRA's refusal to fulfill past promises to put its weapons "beyond use."

As the government stumbled to the brink of collapse, the outlawed Catholic militant group announced Tuesday that it had destroyed an undisclosed stash of guns and explosives.

Romanian children treated for salmonella poisoning

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- Dozens of children were hospitalized in a northeast Romanian town after eating salmonella-tainted pastries, the state news agency Rompres reported Saturday.

At least 250 people who ate the pastries suffered food poisoning, including 194 children -- some as young as 7 years old.

The children bought the pastries from a bakery chain near schools in Botosani, 300 miles north of Bucharest, the daily newspaper Adevarul reported.

The bakery chain's pastries also sickened 24 people in the nearby city of Suceava, said the private news agency Mediafax. The people were hospitalized with food poisoning after eating chocolate cake.

5,616 new AIDS cases reported in China this year

BEIJING (AP) -- China recorded 5,616 new cases of AIDS infection in the first nine months of this year, more than in all of last year, a state newspaper said Saturday.

That raised the known number of people in China with the HIV virus to 28,133, the China Youth Daily said. Last year, 5,201 new cases were reported, the newspaper said.

The report added to growing official candor about the AIDS epidemic in China, where experts believe that at least 600,000 people carry the HIV virus.

Doctors reported 328 new cases of full-blown AIDS from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, up from 233 in all of last year, the Youth Daily said.

Needle-sharing among intravenous drug users and the thriving sex trade were blamed for most new cases, the newspaper said.

But in another break from official reticence, the newspaper said 0.2 percent of new cases were traced to homosexual intercourse.

Vietnam flooding claims 380 lives since August

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Floods in central Vietnam and the southern Mekong Delta have claimed 380 lives, including at least 260 children, since August, officials said Saturday.

The floods have caused an estimated $85 million in damage.

There have been persistent reports of deaths in the nine affected provinces of the Mekong Delta, where flood waters are expected to remain high until the end of November, an official in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Another 13 people were reported drowned Friday, bringing the total killed by the seasonal floods in the delta to 335 people, including 260 children, the official said.

In separate flash floods in central Vietnam, 45 people have been killed in eight affected provinces.

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