News Briefs

Saudi Arabian government severs ties with Taliban

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia declared yesterday that it was severing diplomatic ties with Afghanistan because “the Taliban have ignored all of the contacts and the attempts by the kingdom to persuade them to stop harboring criminals and terrorists and training them and inciting them and making its land a refuge and haven for them,” according to The New York Times. In the past, Saudi diplomats have given the Taliban special leeway; however, the Saudi government announced yesterday that “the Taliban have used that special status for Afghanistan … [to make] its land a center for attracting, training and recruiting a number of gullible men … in order to carry out criminal acts that violate all faiths and creeds.” The Taliban’s failure to react constructively to the international community’s demands to bring terrorists to justice is “defaming Islam and defaming Muslims,” said the Saudi statement. Saudi Arabia’s decision to break ties with the Taliban has potentially far-reaching consequences, as Saudi Arabia is the guardians of Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

New York City, N.Y.

Crime rate in New York City lowest in 40 years

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said yesterday that the city, considered one of the safest big cities in the United States before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, may now “be one of the safest cities in the whole world,” according to The Times. “Last week, crime in New York City was the lowest it has been in about 40 years,” said Giuliani in The Times. For the second straight week, the crime rate in New York City “has made a dramatic plunge,” he said. “This week, we have an 18 percent reduction over last year at this time, and last year was one of the safest years we had in 35 years. Another way to look at it [was that] last week we had four homicides for the entire week. Last year we had 10 in that same week.” As recently as the mid-90s the city would have more than seven or eight homicides each day, Giuliani explained. “Of course, it’s four too many; it always is. But I’m putting these numbers out to show that the reduction in crime in the city is dramatic over and above an already very much-decreased base.”

Amherst, Mass.

Town reconsiders policy on when to fly American flags

Amherst resident Larry Kelley brought up an unplanned issue at Monday’s Select Board meeting: the town’s commemorative flags. Kelley asked whether, given the events of Sept. 11, board members would reconsider their unanimous Sept. 10 decision to fly the town’s commemorative American flags only on six patriotic holidays a year. Previously, the town had flown American flags year-round on the town common and atop town buildings. While the Select Board members said that they supported their Sept. 10 decision, they added that the town would fly its flags in a time of national crisis, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There was no vote on what will happen at the end of the 30-day period established by the U.S. Congress to fly American flags; however, Kelley suggested that residents would be within their rights to fly their own flags from light poles should the town remove its flags. Because two of the town’s 29 flags were stolen last week, only 27 are currently flying.