Wed, Dec 20, 2006 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China
Sociologist jailed for leaks

A court jailed a sociologist for 20 years for leaking state secrets, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said yesterday. Lu Jianhua (陸建華), 46, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was convicted by the No. 2 Intermediate People's Court on Monday, the Hong Kong-based watchdog group said in a statement. Lu did not hire a lawyer. Lu's case appeared to be linked to the imprisonment of Ching Cheong (程翔), a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Straits Times in Singapore, who was jailed for five years for allegedly spying for Taiwan.

■ Afghanistan

Helmand governor sacked

The government has fired the governor of its biggest drug-producing province, while clashes and a suicide bombing killed six militants and wounded six US-led coalition troops, officials said on Monday. Mohammad Daud was replaced by Asadullah Wafa over the weekend as governor of Helmand Province. Helmand accounts for 42 percent of the country's poppy crop, according to UN estimates -- and is also a center of Taliban resistance. A Western official in Kabul said Daud, who had been governor for about a year, was a "high-integrity guy" and said media reports claiming the US wanted him replaced were false. The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, said he didn't know why Daud was removed.

■ China

Luxury hospital filling up

The first ``five-star'' hospital -- with golf course and karaoke bars -- is already half booked ahead of its opening on Monday, even though its cheapest room costs more than US$5,000 a month, the Shanghai Daily reported. Shanghai's Xiyue Postnatal Hospital is meant for new mothers, the paper said. The hospital offers luxury rooms for mothers and children, as well as a swimming pool, golf course, tennis courts and even karaoke bars for visitors, the paper said. While the hospital's cheapest room is priced at just 40,000 yuan (US$5,115) a month, a luxury, two-story suite that has separate bedrooms for mother, child and baby sitter -- along with a karaoke bar -- costs nearly 10,000 yuan a day, the paper said. The average monthly salary in Shanghai is 2,860 yuan, according to official statistics.

■ Sri Lanka

Thousands displaced

Floods have displaced at least 40,000 people as the country prepares to commemorate the second anniversary of the Asian tsunami disaster, National Disaster Management Center director N.D. Hettiarachchi said yesterday. The districts of Hambantota and Ampara, two of the worst hit by the December 2004 tsunami, were under water, he said. "The flood waters are receding, but the victims will have to be looked after for a few more days," he said. He said the flooding in the south and east was compounded by the overflowing of several irrigation tanks.

■ Italy

Thieves steal creche figures

Thieves stole the figurines from an antique Christmas creche in a church in the middle of Naples late on Sunday night, an employee of San Nicola alla Carita said on Monday. "They left nothing," making off with some 300 19th-century figurines, he said. The haul was easily worth 1 million euros (US$1.3 million), the ANSA news agency said.

■ Brazil
Man stabbed over pay hike

A woman apparently incensed over a 91 percent pay hike lawmakers granted themselves last week stabbed a prominent member of congress in the back on Monday, police said. Rita de Cassia Sampaio de Souza, 45, told police her anger over the pay hike drove her to stab Representative Antonio Carlos Magalhaes Neto -- the scion of a powerful political family -- as he left his office in the northeastern city of Salvador da Bahia. Magalhaes, 27, was reportedly in good condition and his life was not at risk. State police inspector Wilson Ramos said the pay raise was one of things Souza mentioned in her rambling statement after she was arrested.

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