Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

were jailed for hijacking an Afghan Ariana Boeing 727 in February 2000, but they had their convictions overturned by Britain's Court of

Appeal last summer. The Immigration Appellate Authority has now ruled that returning the nine men to Afghanistan would breach their human rights, officials said. The Home Office expressed "disappointment" at the decision, and a spokesman there said that Home Secretary David Blunkett would appeal it.

■ United States

DNA solves old murders

DNA evidence has linked a convicted murderer to the killings of three women nearly 18 years ago, Maryland police said. Alexander Watson Jr., 34, was charged on Monday with first-degree murder for strangling two mothers and a high school freshman. In each case, he lived at the time just a few doors from his victims, according to court documents. All three were stabbed multiple times. DNA evidence collected at the three other crime scenes and a DNA sample from Watson entered into a statewide database were critical to the new charges, police said.

■ Canada

Blind excel at picking pitch

Infants who go blind at a very young age develop musical abilities that are measurably better than those who lose their sight later in life or retain full vision, a new study found. Scientists at Canada's University of Montreal have found that blind people are also up to 10 times better

at discerning pitch changes than the sighted -- but only when they went blind before the age of two. "It is well known that you have great musicians that are blind,

and a lot of piano tuners

are blind. But until this study there was no quantifiable evidence to demonstrate that blind people were indeed better," lead researcher Pascal Belin said.

■ France

Kohl aide arrested

Police on Tuesday arrested a former close aide to German ex-chancellor Helmut

Kohl who is wanted in his

home country on suspicion

of corruption and who disappeared five years ago, German and French officials said. Holger Pfahls, who served under Kohl as secretary of state for

defense from 1989 to 1992, is suspected of tax fraud and of taking nearly 2 million euros (US$2.4 million) in bribes in connection with the sale of 36 armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Pfahls is alleged to have taken the money during the 1991 Gulf War in helping German industrial giant Thyssen obtain a contract.

It was never declared to German tax authorities.

■ Mexico

Chips implanted in officials

Mexico's attorney general and other senior staff

have had computer chips implanted in their arms to serve both as an identity device and a tracking mechanism should they be kidnapped. Rafael Macedo de la Concha said similar non-removable chips had been inserted under the skin of senior staff in his office and the 160 employees of

a new state-of-the-art crime database. Macedo did not seem particularly concerned about getting his arm chopped off in consequence, perhaps because he already believes he is risking his life. The primary function of the chip was to control access to the center to prevent sensitive information being leaked to criminal gangs.

■ United States

`Astronomical' rain falls

A freakish midsummer deluge that pounded parts of southern New Jersey forced more than 750 people to flee their flooded homes Tuesday and left a landscape of burst dams, damaged bridges and debris-filled roads throughout Burlington County. No deaths or serious injuries were reported after the storm, which drenched the area in 33cm of rain Monday night and early Tuesday, but meteorologists were awed. Roy Miller, with the National Weather Service, described the rainfall as "kind of astronomical" for a 24-hour period.

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