Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China

Fake wall of China closed

Beijing authorities have closed down a controversial project that allowed couples to carve sweet nothings on a "great wall of love" next to the genuine Great Wall, state media said yesterday. The project charged couples 999 yuan (US$123) to inscribe a message on a stone of the marble wall, which was erected at the foot of a popular tourist section of the Great Wall near Beijing, the China Daily reported. But the fake wall, launched on Valentine's Day, attracted widespread criticism for being a cheap marketing ploy.

■ China

Charles' diary of no interest

China says it is "not interested" in newly published diary excerpts in which Prince Charles apparently shows distaste for the Beijing regime. Charles referred to Chinese leaders as "appalling old waxworks" in a personal journal entry about a 1997 visit to Hong Kong. Asked for comment on the unflattering journal entries, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jinchao (劉建超), said on Thursday, "We are not interested in the diary you talk about." The heir to the British throne is seeking a British High Court judge's ruling that the Mail on Sunday newspaper violated his rights by publishing the diary extracts, which Charles says an ex-employee leaked.

■ Tajikistan

Synagogue demolition starts

Authorities in Tajikistan have started demolishing the country's only synagogue in order to make way for a new presidential residence, an official said on Friday. The century-old synagogue on government land in the ex-Soviet republic's capital Dushanbe will be completely torn down by June "as part of the plans to build a new presidential palace," said a city administration spokesman. Tajikistan's Jewish community is mostly elderly and poor and cannot afford to build a new synagogue.

■ New Zealand

Cocaine stashed in gnomes

A 52-year-old South African grandmother caught carrying more than 3kg of cocaine hidden inside garden gnomes claimed Nigerian drug smugglers put it there, a newspaper reported on Friday. Linda Martin, who is on trial on drug running charges, was arrested as she flew into Auckland airport in March 2004 with the drug-filled gnomes inside a suitcase, the New Zealand Herald reported. She claimed she was trying to find a Nigerian drug lord who she wanted to challenge about the fate of her daughter who was arrested in London carrying drugs early in 2004. Martin's lawyer Barry Hart told the Auckland High Court that Martin was not a sophisticated woman, had never been on a plane before, never knew what was in the suitcase and had no previous convictions.

■ Brazil

Church calls for restraint

The Roman Catholic Church urged revelers on Thursday to abstain from reckless sex, too much alcohol and violence during the country's Carnival celebrations. Carnival begins across Brazil this weekend and crowds of people indulge in a frenzy of drinking, dancing and often licentious behavior. The government will hand out 25 million free condoms to promote safe sex during the several days of parties, revelry and parades. In northeastern Salvador, health officials will provide "next-day pills," the Correio da Bahia newspaper reported. The Rio de Janeiro archdiocese this week barred Mocidade Carnival samba troupe from taking a float with a statue of the Virgin Mary to the Sambadrome parade strip, saying that the use of sacred images in a profane festival may offend Catholics.

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