Sat, Jul 02, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Belgium

Iranian lunch cancelled

A lunch meeting between a leading parliamentarian and counterparts from Iran has been canceled because the beer-loving Belgian could not stomach a ban on alcohol. "Even for the tolerant Herman De Croo, that was a bridge too far," De Croo, a Dutch-speaking Liberal, said. De Croo, president of parliament's lower house, had been due to entertain the speaker and members of the Iranian parliament yesterday during their visit to Belgium -- famous for its diversity of beer brands. But he said lunch had been canceled because the Iranians, who as Muslims do not drink alcohol, wanted their hosts to do the same.

■ Lebanon

Shooting in the air banned

A top Shiite Muslim cleric issued a fatwa edict banning shooting in the air after three people were killed by gunfire celebrating the re-election of the Shiite parliament speaker. Shooting in the air and setting off fireworks among people or on the streets, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said, "is forbidden because of its major negative consequences and because it is intimidating and annoying." Rifle shots and gunfire echoed around Beirut from the moment warlord-turned-politician Nabih Berri was re-elected speaker.

■ NIgeria

Police chief run over

A graft-tainted former police chief fell out of a squad car which then rolled over his legs in a bizarre incident after a court ruled he would face a second trial on corruption charges. Tafa Balogun is accused of stealing and laundering US$100 million in his three years as police inspector general in one of the most high-profile cases resulting from a government crackdown on graft. Police tried to drive Balogun away to complete bail formalities but his defense lawyer resisted and in the confusion Balogun was shoved into a police car which sped off before the doors were closed. A short distance away Balogun fell out of the car and the back wheels went over his legs.

■ United Kingdom

Abortion law change nixed

Proposals to amend the UK abortion law to stop women having late terminations were overwhelmingly rejected by British doctors. After a passionate debate, the British Medical Association voted by three to one to maintain the present limits, restricting abortions to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy except in extreme circumstances. The conference was told that many women had a late termination because local health boards failed to provide facilities for a prompt abortion at an earlier stage in the pregnancy.

■ United Kingdom

Victim wins record sum

The Roman Catholic church was warned by lawyers that it is likely to face further claims for compensation for the prolonged sexual abuse of children carried out by one of its priests after a victim was awarded a record ?635,000 (US$1,140,000) in damages. The figure, awarded to a 35-year-old man who was abused over a 10-year period by the priest, Father Christopher Clonan, is the largest settlement the church has conceded in the UK. The man, known as A, was abused between the ages of seven and 18, and now suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder and has lived for the past five years in a mental health home. By the time the boy was 12 he was being anally raped and forced to perform oral sex.

■ United States

Teacher, students arrested

Two failing students face arson charges after accepting teacher Tramesha Lashon Fox's offer of a passing score in exchange for torching her car in a botched insurance scheme, Texas authorities said on Wednesday. "All three have confessed," senior fire investigator Dustin Deutsch of the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said. Fox, 32, was in the process of surrendering to authorities, Deutsch and Fox's attorney told reporters. Roger Luna, 18, was arrested on Tuesday while Darwin Arias, 17, was not yet in custody, Deutsch said. The two males each face one count of arson, punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Fox faces charges of arson and insurance fraud, also punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

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