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Friday, May 2, 2003

Castro warns Cubans of possible U.S. attack HAVANA — Calling U.S. foreign policy "fascist," Cuban President Fidel Castro warned his nation Thursday that the United States was preparing for a possible attack against Cuba and vowed the world's only superpower would suffer a bloody defeat.

Castro, speaking before hundreds of thousands of people at the annual May Day rally, said President Bush and hard-line Cuban exiles in Miami were trying to provoke an incident between the two nations as a pretext for war. He said the United States could try to assassinate him or could launch a full-scale military assault as in Iraq.

"In Miami and Washington, they are now discussing where, how and when Cuba will be attacked," the Cuban president said. "It might turn out to be the last of this (Bush) administration's fascist attacks because the struggle would last a very long time."

Blair cancels elections in Northern Ireland BELFAST, Northern Ireland — British Prime Minister Tony Blair canceled Northern Ireland's elections Thursday, saying deepening divisions among Catholic and Protestant voters threatened to bring "complete and total chaos."

Blair said he planned to move the May 29 election for Northern Ireland's dissolved legislature to the autumn. But he warned that the vote could be delayed longer if the outlawed Irish Republican Army doesn't explicitly renounce violence, cease all hostile activities and disarm.

Gaining such an IRA commitment "goes to the very soul of the Good Friday agreement," he said, referring to the 1998 pact that proposed power-sharing between British Protestants and Irish Catholics in the province. He accused the IRA's Sinn Fein party of a "point-blank refusal" to go beyond "general assurances" on future IRA actions.

Blair said that without decisive IRA peace moves to reassure Protestant voters, a majority would probably back Ian Paisley's hard-line Democratic Unionist Party, which opposed the peace deal.

Australian brothel listed on stock market MELBOURNE, Australia — Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss was on hand Thursday as the stock market began trade in Australia's first-ever listed brothel, The Daily Planet.

"How can you go wrong with sex?" Fleiss asked while visiting the city of Melbourne to promote the enterprise.

The Melbourne-based brothel raised $2.2 million in its initial public offering, Chief Executive Andrew Harris said.

Harris said the company had plans to franchise the business in other Australian cities, and build a "mega" brothel in Sydney, where prostitution has also been decriminalized.

Shares at The Daily Planet were offered at 31 cents each, and debuted higher at 43 cents. By late trading, shares were up to 59 cents each.

Fleiss served 21 months in prison in the United States for money laundering, tax evasion and attempted pandering, and was released in 1999. She was hired by The Daily Planet to develop business ideas.

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