Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take


■ Australia

No free `Fahrenheit 9/11'

Australia's Defense Department has barred free screenings of US filmmaker Michael Moore's controversial anti-war documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 on military bases, a spokesman said yesterday. But Brigadier Mike Hannan denied a newspaper report that the blockbuster, a scathing critique of US President George W. Bush, has been banned. The film's Australian distributor, Hopscotch, was approached by a soldier for a copy to screen at an unnamed military base, The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday. The distributor offered the film for free and the screening was approved by the soldier's immediate superiors on base. But the newspaper said that defense headquarters in Canberra last week banned the film from all bases. Hannan said bases were free to screen the documentary as long as troops pay as they do with other films.

■ Afghanistan

Hospital collapse kills two

Two people were found dead amid the rubble of a hospital that collapsed during renovation in the Afghan capital and 20 others were injured, officials said yesterday. A wing of the stripped-down structure of the Jamhuriat Hospital crumbled without warning on Monday afternoon, burying workers carrying out a Chinese-sponsored refit. Three Chinese construction workers were among the injured. By Tuesday morning, rescue teams using earth-movers and cranes had found two Afghans killed in the incident, said Hakim Aziz, a senior health ministry official. Aziz said another 20 were injured, including a man pulled out alive early yesterday. Another health official, Ahmad Shah Shokomand, said none of those injured were in serious condition. The three Chinese workers, who were slightly injured, were discharged from a hospital Monday, he said.

■ Singapore

Rapes, murders on the rise

Singapore's reputation as one of the world's safest cities took a hit from January to June when more people were raped or murdered compared to the same period last year, police data showed yesterday. Cases of rape in the wealthy island-state of four million people state rose 18.6 percent to 70. Victims were known to the rapists in 90 percent of the cases, police said. Murder is also up, though cases remain rare. Twelve people were murdered in Singapore in the first half of 2004, up by one from the same period last year, the police said. But total crime as measured by "seizable offences" -- which include robbery along with murder and rape -- fell to 16,545 cases, one less than the same period last year.

■ Hong Kong

Fraudster pleads guilty

A German tourist pleaded guilty in a plot to cheat upscale Hong Kong hotels out of cash and free lodging by claiming they served him salads containing shards of glass, officials said yesterday. Marcel Beier, 27, was convicted Monday of two charges that he tried to obtain property by deception and one count of blackmail, court officials said. Beier was arrested Jan. 30 after he picked up a check for 30,750 Hong Kong dollars (US$3,942) from the Peninsula, a five-star hotel known as a haunt of the rich and famous. Court documents show Beier also tried to cheat the Ritz-Carlton and the Grand Hyatt.

■ Brazil

Slave laborers liberated

The government has freed 2,300 workers living in slave conditions in a new offensive by state attorneys, the O Globo newspaper reported on Monday. The paper printed a government report which said that state attorneys filed lawsuits against 41 hacienda owners and eight firms which will be tried for violating labor laws and failing to pay social security for workers. According to the report, the latest effort to free workers living and working in slave conditions was the second major offensive against slavery since of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office in January last year. The first operation led to the release of 5,100 slaves and lawsuits against 52 hacienda owners and firms.

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