Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ United Kingdom

Harry Potter: the bets are on

The evil Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter himself are leading the field in betting on who will kill the schoolboy wizard in the last of the popular book series, British bookmaker William Hill said on Tuesday. Author J.K. Rowling said last Thursday that the final instalment of the adventures is to be called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, sparking speculation that the hero will meet his end. "J.K. mentioned that Harry might be killed off and the general consensus seems to be that ... to ensure that Voldemort dies he will need to be sacrificed," said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams. "Most of the early money has been for Harry, who has been cut from 10-1 to 6-1 and Voldemort remains the odds-on favorite [at 4-5]."

■ United Kingdom

Quake rattles Scotland

The calm of Boxing Day in the Scottish market town of Dumfries was shattered on Tuesday morning when it was hit by an earth tremor -- the largest recorded in Britain this year. Accompanied by a "tremendous crack and rumble" heard across south-west Scotland, the earthquake was felt by thousands of residents in the town, shaking buildings and rattling windows, at 10:40am. Some feared a plane had crashed or a juggernaut rammed into their homes. The quake, centred on the Lincluden area on the north-western fringes of the town, had a magnitude of 3.5. The shock was picked up by seismological monitoring stations as far away as Lerwick on Shetland and Hartland in north Devon.

■ France

Sarkozy files lawsuit

Interior minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy has filed a defamation suit against a suspect in a murky political smear campaign, the Paris prosecutors' office said on Tuesday. The so-called Clearstream affair centered on damaging, but false, allegations that Sarkozy had secret bank accounts. The scandal has implicated members of France's conservative government and shaken the political elite. Imad Lahoud was charged earlier this year on allegations of slander and doctoring phony lists of names including some prominent politicians.

■ Russia

Jailed oligarch transferred

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of dismantled Russian oil giant Yukos, has been transferred to a new detention facility in eastern Siberia, where he could face new money-laundering charges. Khodorkovsky has been transferred to a detention facility in the regional capital of Chita, though his lawyers have been unable to see him. "No one has met him, but the head of the detention facility confirmed that he had been moved there and said that he was feeling well," Maxim Dbar, a spokesman for Khodorkovsky's legal team, said on Tuesday.

■ United States
Los Angeles overdoses up

A steep rise in drug overdose deaths in Los Angeles is being blamed on an influx of highly potent heroin from Afghanistan, it was reported on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Times cited figures from experts saying that heroin-related fatalities in the city and surrounding areas soared by around 75 percent in three years from 137 in 2002 to 239 last year. Drug users over 40 who lack the resilience to deal with an unexpectedly strong dose were the most vulnerable, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology.

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