Bears feast on keeper
An animal keeper in China who made his living extracting bile from the gallbladders of live bears was attacked and eaten by six of them, state media said Tuesday. Han Shigen was assaulted by the bears on Monday morning while cleaning their cage, Xinhua news agency said. He died on the spot and was eaten by the animals. In traditional Chinese medicine, the bile salts of bear gallbladders are considered powerful medicine for the treatment of various intestinal and cardiac-related illnesses. Bear gallbladders can fetch as much as US$4,000 or more in Asian markets, according to a report on the Web site of the World Wildlife Fund.
■ Hong Kong
Ex-Disney worker in protest
A former employee of Hong Kong Disneyland scaled the resort's famous Magic Mountain rollercoaster ride on Tuesday in a dispute with management, police said. The 48-year-old man climbed to the top of the attraction's 30m-high domed roof armed with a small knife and demanded to speak to park managers, a police spokeswoman said. Police negotiated with him for more than two hours before convincing him to give up his protest. He was not arrested. The Disney company confirmed the man was a former employee, but could not say what his dispute was about. Staff at the US$3 billion theme park, which opened early last month, have complained that they are overworked and poorly treated.
■ South Korea
Visitor gives birth in North
A South Korean visiting North Korea to see a festival has become the first woman from her country to give birth in the communist state, raising questions about the baby's citizenship, officials said yesterday. Hwang Seon went to a hospital in Pyongyang on Monday night and gave birth to a baby girl, a South Korean Unification Ministry official said. The mother had been expecting to give birth next week, but wanted to take advantage of a rare opportunity to visit North Korea to see a mass games festival.
Corby sentence reduced
A high court in Bali has reduced by five years a 20-year drug smuggling jail term imposed on Australian former beauty student Schapelle Corby, her lawyer said yesterday. "That is correct. The verdict has been issued. I received the news from the high court just today. A copy of the ruling will be delivered to the Denpasar district court this Friday," lawyer Erwin Siregar said. Corby, 28, was in May found guilty of smuggling after 4.1kg of marijuana was found stashed inside her unlocked surfboard bag when she arrived in Bali.
Elections set for 2007
King Gyanendra, who was condemned at home and abroad for seizing power eight months ago, said yesterday that he would hold parliamentary elections by April, 2007 -- five years later than planned. In a message to the nation on the Hindu festival of Dasain, Gyanendra urged the world community to help conduct dignified, free and fair polls. He also urged Maoist rebels to end their revolt to topple the monarchy and to join the political mainstream. Polls have been delayed since 2002, when Gyanendra sacked the prime minister and postponed elections set for November that year.
■ The Netherlands
War crimes trial begins
The war crimes tribunal in The Hague began the trial of the three Serbian Army officers accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes for a notorious massacre during the Balkan wars. Serbian forces overran a Croatian town, Vukovar, in November 1991, emptied the hospital and killed almost 300 people. Among the dead were patients, members of the hospital staff, journalists and Croatian fighters who had taken refuge. Two officers, Veselin Sljivancanin, 52, and Miroslav Radic, 43, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The third, Mile Mrksic, 58, did not speak. Prosecutors said the three were being held accountable because as commanders they had control over both the Serbian troops and the Serbian paramilitary groups that organized and carried out the killings.