Employers Can Favor Women In Promotions, Court Rules

LUXEMBOURG - European employers can promote women ahead of equally qualified men to help overcome past discrimination, the European Union's top court says.

The European Court of Justice, in a ruling binding on all 15 EU members, dismissed a complaint from a male teacher who failed to get a promotion in 1994. A woman with the same qualifications got the job.

With yesterday's ruling, the court changed its position on "gender-balance" cases. The court in 1995 decided that women did not have an automatic right to be promoted over equally qualified men.

But the EU court said yesterday: "Priority given to equally qualified women - which is designed to restore the (gender) balance - is not contrary (to EU law). . . ."

The court said such discrimination was justified because men already "benefit from deep-rooted prejudices and from stereotypes as to the role and capabilities of women." One such stereotype is the tendency to assume women are less committed workers because they are the ones who bear children, the court argued.

6 Algerian civilians, 6 suspected rebels killed

Gunmen in Algeria killed six civilians, including three women whom they first raped, then cut their throats and burned, while troops killed six suspected Muslim rebels, Algerian newspapers said today.

The women's bodies were found by government forces in Bainem forest in Algiers, said Al Khabar newspaper. Troops have been trying to flush out suspected guerrillas hiding in the forest.

Troops killed six suspected rebels in Algiers and in nearby Boumerdes on Monday, Al Khabar said.

More than 65,000 people have died in Algeria's violence since early 1992, when authorities canceled an election in which radical Islamists had taken a huge lead.

Strike partly successful in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - A nationwide general strike prompted thousands of Dominicans to stay home from work yesterday and today. Streets were quiet, hundreds of businesses closed and professional-baseball games were canceled.

But thousands of people tried to get to their jobs despite patchy public transportation. The universal shutdown envisioned by strike organizers - a group of small organizations - never materialized.

Polls indicated most Dominicans opposed the two-day strike even if they supported the activists' demands for higher wages, lower food and gasoline prices and an end to chronic power cuts.

Canada, U.S. must battle smog together, says report

OTTAWA - Canada and the United States must work together if they are to control the smog that threatens the health of many city dwellers, a new report concludes.

Health standards for smog are being exceeded in large areas of both countries, according to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, which was set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The report identifies two important "pollution rivers" carrying ground-level ozone - the main ingredient of smog - for up to 500 miles across the U.S.-Canadian border. One flows from the U.S. Midwest across southern Ontario and Quebec, then down into the northeastern United States. The other flows up the U.S. Northeast into Canada's Atlantic provinces.

Germany wants better image on Scientology

BONN - German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel unveiled plans today for an "information campaign" in the United States to explain Germany's refusal to accept Scientology as a religion.

Germany says the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology is, in Germany at least, more of a business than a religion and accuses it of exploiting the insecurities of its members for economic gain.

Kinkel said that though the U.S. Congress this week defeated a resolution accusing Germany of religious bias, there was "a huge lack of awareness" about the German position among U.S. politicians.

"The German government is in no way persecuting Scientology," said Kinkel. Germany in June placed Scientology under a 12-month nationwide observation on suspicion of anti-constitutional intent.