Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Complaints over gouging

Soaring gasoline costs prompted thousands of complaints to federal officials about alleged price gouging and demands by some members of Congress for an investigation into gasoline markets. The Energy Department on Thursday reported more than 5,000 calls to its price-gouging hotline from motorists, although officials emphasized there was no way to immediately determine how many of the allegations were valid. There were isolated cases of unusually huge price jumps. A gas station in Georgia charged US$6 a gallon (US$1.60 a liter) when competitors ran out of gas.

■ United Kingdom
Pugwash's Rotblat dies

Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat, a physicist who campaigned against nuclear arms, died in his sleep in London on Wednesday, his spokesman said on Thursday. He was 96. Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the group he founded to help rid the world of atomic arms, received the Nobel in 1995. The Nobel committee said Rotblat and his group were honored for their efforts to "diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms" and to get scientists to "take responsibility for their inventions."

■ Senegal

Cholera killing hundreds

A cholera epidemic spreading across West Africa has sickened tens of thousands of people this year and killed nearly 500 amid a long-term deterioration in health conditions, the UN said on Thursday. Cholera has stricken 31,259 people in nine countries since June and 488 are reported dead in what the UN said was an "unusually high incidence" of the disease. Year-ago figures weren't provided. "It's not business as usual. We have a crisis that needs immediate attention," Herve Ludovic de Lys, head of coordination of the UN's humanitarian efforts in the region, told reporters. "This crisis needs a rapid response."

■ South Africa

Toilet break proves deadly

Nineteen Zimbabweans died yesterday when their overcrowded minibus plunged over a cliff into a dry river bed after the driver got out to urinate, police said. "The driver [said] that he parked the vehicle to relieve himself. When he was outside the taxi it began to roll," said a police officer from the northern Limpopo province, which borders Zimbabwe. He said it was not clear how the vehicle had begun moving, but brake failure was a possibility. The 16-seater minibus taxi was carrying 26 passengers at the time, all Zimbabwean nationals, the officer said, adding that the driver may face charges of culpable homicide.

■ United States

Russian UN official arrested

A Russian UN official who works with the General Assembly's budget committee was arrested by the FBI on money-laundering charges, a federal official said. Vadim Kouznetsov, who was taken into custody on Thursday, is the second Russian UN official to be arrested for money laundering by the FBI in the past month. He was to be arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday. Alexander Yakovlev, who was arrested on Aug. 8, has pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in part for soliciting bribes from contractors, but has not yet been sentenced.

■ Ukraine

Newborn babies missing

A Council of Europe envoy dispatched to Ukraine to investigate allegations of baby trafficking said she found evidence that newborns had disappeared from hospitals, the Kommersant newspaper reported yesterday. "I didn't know whether the rumors about missing children were true," Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold was quoted as saying. "But it turns out it all corresponds to reality and children really have disappeared." She said she couldn't say how many babies might have disappeared. Ukrainian activists believe the newborns might have been sold to medical institutes who harvested their organs, and say the number of newborns who disappeared from the hospital between 2001 to 2003 could be in the hundreds.

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