Israel's drought among its worst

JERUSALEM - Israel is suffering its worst drought in a decade and will have to stop pumping from one of its main sources of drinking water, the Sea of Galilee, by the end of the summer, an official said yesterday.

Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor said Israel must start pumping more ground water from aquifers that are already depleted. Israel's water problem stems from population growth and rising prosperity that have brought an increase in lawns and gardens, Schor said.

In addition, this winter was the fourth in a row in which Israel had low rainfall, with only about 50 to 60 percent of the average in most areas, he said. Israel's rainy season ends this month and will not begin again until October.

- AP

Militant Somalis revel in U.S. move

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Islamic militants in Somalia said yesterday that they welcomed being added to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The State Department announced Tuesday that it had added the military wing of the Council of Islamic Court to its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Some members of its military wing, called al-Shabab or "the youth," are affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

"We are happy that the U.S. put us on its list of terrorists," said Sheikh Muqtar Robow. The capital, Mogadishu, has been engulfed in an insurgency launched by Islamic militants.

- AP

Park ranger held in gorilla deaths

KINSHASA, Congo - A park ranger has been arrested for allegedly masterminding the massacre of endangered mountain gorillas, conservationists said yesterday.

Honore Mashagiro, a ranger in Congo's Virunga National Park, is the chief suspect in the slaying last summer of 10 gorillas that belonged to a group known to environmentalists as the Rugendo family.

Mashagiro is accused of arranging the mass killing to deter conservationists who were trying to prevent the destruction of the animals' rain-forest habitat, the international conservation group WildlifeDirect said. Loggers cut down the forest's trees to make charcoal, a lucrative business.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Saudi Arabia's

first women-only hotel has opened in the capital, Riyadh, the newspaper Al-Watan reported. Laws in Saudi Arabia do not allow the mixing of sexes in public places, which has posed obstacles for businesswomen.

Afghan police

are carrying out a large-scale campaign to close down unlicensed billiard halls allegedly being used as brothels and by criminals. The campaign was launched before the Nowrooz holiday, which marks the new year in Afghanistan.

Japan has created

an unusual government post to promote animation and named a perfect figure to the position: a popular cartoon robot cat named Doraemon. The appointment is part of Japan's recent effort to harness the power of pop culture in diplomacy.