World

On schedule, the new cease-fire between India and Pakistan began and appeared to be holding along the disputed Kashmir frontier as the Monitor went to press. India's Press Trust news agency quoted Defense Minister George Fernandes as saying there was reason to believe "this could take us to a point where we may ... find solutions to problems that have been plaguing us for a long time." But the largest Muslim militant group using Pakistan as its base said it would not respect the truce. Indian officials said any militants seen infiltrating Kashmir would be shot "as they should be."

Final returns are expected Thursday from the election for a new Protestant-Catholic power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. Despite heavy security, voting Wednesday reportedly was off to a slow start, amid warnings that Irish Republican Army dissidents might disrupt the process. Analysts also predicted that political parties on both extremes - the Protestant Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, the ally of the IRA - would make the most significant gains in the number of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, at the expense of moderates.

Warning that "The worst is yet to come," a major UN agency reported that more than 11 million Africans under 15 are orphaned because of AIDS and that the continent can't cope with them all. UNICEF identified the hardest-hit countries as Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe and projected that the number will swell to 20 million in the next seven years. It said support systems aren't in place to offer such children protection and guidance or to feed them adequately. The report cited free basic education, direct financial aid, and viable options for earning a living as critical to reversing the trend.

The ceremonial final flight of a Concorde jet took it from London's Heathrow Airport Wednesday to a soon-to-be-built heritage center in western England, where it will go on display. The sleek supersonic plane - a British Airways flight crossed the Atlantic Ocean to New York in two hours, 53 minutes in 1996 - once appeared to represent the future of commercial aviation. But it never recouped its huge development costs and fell out of favor after a horrific crash near Paris in July 2000. Air France retired its last Concorde in May.

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